From Rs 17 in her pocket to crowdfunding a bharatanatyam recital

Jagyaseni Chatterji’s offers aspiring dancers tips on how to save for stage time, ahead of her crowd-funded bharatanatyam performance next weekend

Sonali Shenoy Published :  11th July 2017 07:43 PM   |   Published :   |  11th July 2017 07:43 PM
Jagyaseni Chatterjee

Jagyaseni Chatterjee

It's not that everyday the daughter of a Bengali movie star decides to crowd fund a bharatanatyam recital in Tamil Nadu. Meet Jagyaseni Chatterjee. She's 30 and is not afraid to reach out for help, despite growing up around the fame of her mother Soma Dey, whom you may remember from films like Sagar Balaka and Bilwa Mangal — from Bengal's black and white cinema scape of the 1970s. 

"Seven years ago, I came to Chennai with Rs 17 in my pocket and a seat for a Masters in Bharatanatyam from Madras University," she recalls. This was after quitting a job to reconnect with her passion for dance and using all her savings thus far to foot the course fees. Now, a disciple of Dr Lakshmi Ramaswamy, she has gone on to become a Doordarshan Graded artiste and performed across major sabhas from Chennai to Colombo. 

That said, given the highly competitive performance space with dancers outnumbering shows, stage cost requirements are usually borne by the artiste — although they are rarely paid for a performance. 

Jagyaseni Chatterjee

Between practice sessions, tickets for travel, costumes and make up and live musicians, the 30-year-old admits, "When the opportunity came to perform this month, my savings were wiped." However, she adds to make a point, "You need to perform regularly to make your presence felt."

When a friend suggested, she tries crowdfunding - she decided she had nothing to lose. The average cost of a solo bharatanatyam show is Rs 60,000 and with a month to make it, alongside a full time job as a communications manager at a non-profit by day and regular rehearsals with her guru, Jagyaseni decided to try the crowdfunding platform Milaap.

"So far, I have raised Rs 56,000 in 20 days," she offers us a broad smile. Though a majority of donors are from outside the city, every one of them has been personally invited for the show. 

As for aspiring dancers who relate to Jagyaseni's story, she does have a few cost-effective tips to share from her journey so far. "Try to mix and match your stage costumes which can cost up to Rs 10,000, so that you don't have to spend on a new one for each show," she suggests. 

Another big save if your wallet permits, she adds is,  "Recording your musicians. It might cost a bundle (as much as three to four lakh) but the foresight will mean you can use the track for performances in the future and effectively have music ready to go anywhere, anytime!" 

On July 21. At Sivagami Petachi Auditorium, Mylapore. Time: 7.30 pm. Details: 9176250839. To contribute, log on to  https://milaap.org/fundraisers/letmedance

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