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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Most charming short intro of Indian Classical Dances

You have watched it, now enjoy the dance of texts with twists to enthral your nerves.

Of all the performing arts, the classical dance is the most visually appealing.

You don’t have to be a dance exponent or a connoisseur of dance to enjoy the rhythm and beauty of dance. It is one form of human expression, where both the performer and its audience can feel the emotions flow. The aura that is created with the costume, make –up, the musicians and above all the dancer keeps you enthralled if the performance is heartfelt. The vibes just float in the atmosphere. 

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, the apex body for performing arts in India, classifies eight dance forms as being classical.
The eight classical dances are -
 Bharatnatyam – Tamil classical dance
 Odissi – Orissa classical dance
– Kuchipudi – Telugu classical dance
 Mohiniyattam – Kerala classical dance
 Sattriya – Assamese classical dance
 Kathakali – Malayalam classical dance
 Kathak – North Indian classical dance
 Manipuri – Manipur classical dance.

The earliest found treatise on dance is the ancient Bharat’s Natyashastra, most visually appealing traditional thing. It forms the base or reference book for all Indian dance forms.

To help people who loved Indian classical dances but could not follow or understand it properly, a movement was started called the SPIC-MACAY - Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth. This has done commendable work in connecting the dancer with his/her audience. The series has a Lecture-Demonstration component that is most enlightening. The maestros actually help the viewers by explaining in simple terms the nuances of the dance and then go onto demonstrate them. In the hands of an effective communicator, this is an awesome experience. 

The best that I have attended has been by Sonal Mansingh, the famous Bharatnatyam and Odissi exponent. The veteran was dancing and enthusiasts watched spell bound hours long performance in Raipur open culture theater. Watching aged Sonal Mansingh with vigour of youth is most visually appealing inspiring for person of any age. Aged people can take it as the movement therapy too.

Indian Classical Dance is a legacy that should be passed on through generations. Some pioneering work is being done all across the length and breadth of the country to spread awareness among the people. Helping people appreciate these ancient dance forms is a time consuming activity and requires a lot of dedication from the artists themselves.

One of these happened at the Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai where around 70 children were exposed to Indian Classical dance. The dancers here took great pains to make these kids appreciate Indian classical dances in a world dominated by video games and computers. The kids were taught about these dances in a very innovative way. The classes were full of fun and active participation instead of rigorous training.

The kids were slowly introduced to Bharatnatyam, Mohiniyattam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak and Manipuri. The children were taught about the basics of each dance form – the abhinaya (expressions), nritta (rhythmic dance steps) and mudras (gestures). The children got actively involved when the teachers demonstrated the navarasas. They were even taught a few basic leg movements as well as the hand gestures which are peculiar to each dance form.

A two day program is too short a duration for teaching as well as learning but it is definitely a way forward and hopefully leads to more interest in the future. The response has been overwhelming; our classical dance forms need all the patronage they can get. 

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