London:Padma Bhushan Alarmel Valli, who is one of the leading Bharatnatyam dancers in India, stressed on the need to give arts and humanities equal importance in the country.
"Arts and humanities is so marginalised in today`s world, particularly in India where the focus is so much on science and technology. The work of institutions like the Bhavan is invaluable in that context," said Valli, as part of her M P Birla Memorial Lecture titled `Past Forward: My Journey Through Dance` at the Bhavan Centre in London last evening.
The famous danseuse and choreographer will also be performing `Scent of the Earth: Gandhavati` at the centre on Sunday, where she explores many guises and moods of nature through Bharatanatyam dance.?
"For me the act of dancing is a magical way of bringing together my past, present and future. I owe the entire credit of my art to my gurus who gave me a sound foundation as well as the freedom to be my own dancer," she said in reference to gurus Pandanainallur Sri Chokkalingam Pillai and his son Sri Subbaraya Pillai.
"In current times, which are so commercialised and art tends to get devalued by market value, great masters like I had are even more important. They never resorted to gimmicks to popularise their art and studying dance was an enriching experience. Times have changed and teaching modes too.
"Today, I note students call for a lot more spoon feeding. TV is a big culprit as it has led to diminished attention spans," added Valli, who has been dancing and performing for 50 years.
The M P Birla Memorial Lecture is held annually at the Bhavan Centre this year also marked the launch of the centre`s new website.
"Alarmel Valli is a foremost exponent of Bharatnatyam dance, who has reinvented the traditional grammar in her dance poetry. It is an honour to have her here for the lecture," said Dr M N Nandakumara, director of the Bhavan Centre.