Dance as a career and how to go about it? Interview with Leena Ketkar

Tell us a bit about yourself 

  • I am a trained Kathak Dancer and running my own institute for the past 15 years.
  • An examiner at Gandharva Mahavidyalay for Kathak Dance Exams.
  • I have judged various dance competitions at city levels and participated in many state and national level programs.

When did you start learning dance?

I started learning when I was in 1st std. I started learning as a hobby and for the initial four years I learnt various styles like – Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Manipuri, Odisi and Folk dance forms. From 5th Std, I started learning from Guru Pandita Shama Bhate. I went on to take dance as my primary subject at college level and did a BA in dance from Lalit Kala Kedra, Pune University.

Now I am doing my MA under Shama Tai’s guidance from Bharati Vidya Peeth

How did you decide to take it up as a career?

What started as a hobby soon turned into a passion. While I was in high school, my Guru Shama Bhateji and Sureshji Talwalkar suggested it to me and even discussed the same with my parents. They clarified my parent’s doubts and were very understanding. With so much confidence being bestowed by my guru, my parents agreed to the suggestion and supported me in my journey.

how different is the learning process from normal colleges?

All dance universities have gurukul system in India. There are two parts to the learning process – theory and practical learning. While the theory portion is covered in college via lectures, the practical training is to be done with a Guru. Usually, universities have a prescribed list of guru’s and you need to choose your guru from that.

All performing arts education admission is based on entrance exams. You have courses from graduation to masters to PhD level in the university system.

Apart from this there are separate examinations conducted by Gandharva Mahavidyalay which is equivalent to University level BA or MA degrees.

What is the life of a professional dancer? How is it like?

Daily riyaaz and being aware about what is new in your field is extremely important. There will be a minimum 2-3 hours of practice every day. You need to be attuned to the latest happenings and explore various genres like fusion or Bollywood music.

Dance is a physically intensive field. Apart from practice, there will be a lot of travel involved as programs happen all year round and all over India. You will have to build your network and take up performances depending on your capacity. Nowadays there are troupes focusing on classical dance. They call dancers from all over the world and perform together based on a concept.

What are the requirements to take dance as a profession?

Consult your Guru to understand your performance level. Your guru is the best person to guide you. This is an intensive field and you need family support. You need to work on your physical and mental stamina as once you take it as a serious career option, it easily involves 8-10 hours of training.

Another thing that I would like to tell the parents and the students interested in pursuing this career is that there is no immediate glamour. The ever increasing reality shows, show only a part of the actual efforts put in by a dancer and there should be enough thought put in before taking it up professionally.

WHAT KIND OF SUPPORT SYSTEM DO YOU NEED TO MAKE A FULFILLING CAREER IN DANCE?

Classical dance forms or any dance forms  are physically and mentally challenging. For starters, you need 8-10 years of economic support.

When you start giving solo performances you will need good stage, good music, costumes, etc. Learning some video and sound editing skills will be an added advantage. If you are performing with live music, you need good musicians and good support dancers.

Any tips for those planning to take it up as a career?

Don’t fall for the glamour. You will be required to learn for atleast 10-12 years. Your training will be rigorous and one-to-one. Choose an able guru, who will not only teach you the techniques but will also help you explore your creativity and present challenging topics and styles. Keep realistic views about the career and focus on building your network.

What are the career options in this field?

After learning Kathak at BA or MA level, apart from being a professional dancer, you can be a faculty at performing arts universities or you can start your own dance academy. There are also career options in the field of dance related costume designing, make-up and stage management. Apart from my dance institute, I teach two Indian girls in Germany via Skype. So that’s a new way to explore.

You can contact Leena Ketkar on – 9881137578

If you are following your passion or want to bust some myths about traditional careers, then do fill in the GoogleForms and I will feature you on my blog.

Culinary Arts – A satisfying career option – Interview Shubha Shree Surendra #BlogChatterProjects

Everybody need not be an Engineer or a Doctor! The mindset that only mainstream careers mean something, is wrong. The whole month of December, I am looking at alternative careers that can be satisfying as well as rewarding.

I caught up with a 21 year old student pursuing culinary arts. You might wonder what that is! I had the same thoughts, so I did a bit of research online.

What is culinary arts?

In really simple terms, culinary art refers to the process of cooking and arranging food. How many of you thought about ‘MasterChef‘? I know, I did! It piqued my interest, so I decided to do an interview with her. Following are the excerpts from it.

Today we interview Shubha Shree Surendra who is pursuing culinary arts at the North Shore International Academy, Auckland, NZ.

What kind of background is required to apply for this course?

Education wise- you could be anything above a 12th pass student. There are age groups from 17 to 50+ at this institute.
but most importantly- one must have LOTS of patience, determination, physical and mental strength for this course.

Are there entrance tests? when should one start preparing?

Not really, most institutes do not require any prior knowledge or technical skills for this course. However, interviews and cover letters play an important role in fixing yourself a spot at any skill-based institute. Questions are usually based on how passionate you are towards the course as well as WHY you chose this field.

What is the course structure like?

The course that I am doing is a LEVEL 4 And 5 in culinary arts (Doing both levels is optional, but recommended if you want a decent position in the industry).
this is a 2-year course, consisting of 4 terms. You will be taught A-Z of culinary foundation through the 2 years – right from holding your knife to presenting a completed dish.

difference between hotel management and culinary arts?

The culinary arts refer to professions that involve preparing and cooking food. Culinary artists often are compared with restaurant managers in both education and career scope. Generally, the major differentiating factor for culinary artists and hotel management students are the specific college programs, the type of training and experience involved and the actual duties associated with each job. A culinary arts program will have subjects like nutrition and sensory evaluation, American cuisine, international cuisine and meat science. Management programs, in contrast, focus on educating individuals on how to operate the restaurant from a business management perspective.

What are the career prospects?

At the end of 2 years, you will be a certified chef, capable of working at any restaurant/hotel- positions may vary with experience, skill, etc. Other job options could be a personal chef, food stylist, cookbook author, food scientist, and so on.

some tips for students looking for a similar course?

Being a chef is not as easy as people presume, it involves a lot of physical and mental dedication every single day. For a chef, the holiday season is the busiest so forget partying during New year’s or vacationing during long weekends- this is when you’d be expected to show up in the kitchen. Do not join this profession if you are not passionate/interested in cooking; a lot of people I know have ended up choosing this course because they think they have no other option or they want to give this a “try”. Take my word, you will not be happy if you cannot give this your 100%.
what some people also don’t know is that cleaning and maintenance of hygiene plays a major role in the kitchen so expect to wash dishes when you enter the industry- that is how you grow and learn.

The kitchen is a hot, loud, noisy, busy but extremely satisfying place with a high swear-word frequency: be mentally prepared.

Can these courses be done in India? what should a student look for while choosing an institute?

India has several schools/colleges that offer a course in hotel management but only a handful that offer a mainstream culinary course.
Personally, I did not enjoy my experience in the culinary college I studied at, in India. Most Indian schools have a different approach with the education system, but then again- it’s just a personal opinion. There are 100’s of wonderfully talented chef’s that Indian schools have produced as well.
My advice before choosing your school would be: RESEARCH. Do thorough research of the school you choose. Ask questions, do not hold back. One tip would be to ask previous alumni- the ones who are not mentioned on the college website, if you want honest answers.

What is the process of applying for foreign universities and what should the student keep in mind?

Pretty much the same goes for any institute across the world. Do thorough research before choosing what fits your criteria and vision. Few things to keep in mind:
– know your rights, rules and regulations of the country before choosing.

  • If you wish to work during your study period, find out visa restrictions and availability of jobs.
  • Research everything about the country- from cost of living to future opportunities (if you wish to stay back).
  • Most students apply for universities/ colleges through an agent- I did too. It is a much faster and easier way of application as they help make sure all criteria are met and processes complete.
  • Most countries require test of language. Exams like IELTS/TOEFL, etc can be attempted, based on what the country accepts.

Last Thoughts

I hope this was an informative interview, the way it was for me. And I sincerely hope this will help more students and parents choose from the various career avenues that are now available.

Are you following your passion and have chosen an alternate career? Or maybe you know someone who has. Connect with me on nehatambe.dm@gmail.com or fill in the form below!Have any queries or wish to add more information or share this post? Share it with #LearnNotEducate