Artists staging ballet to help revive Indian classical dance

April 25th, 2008 - 5:36 pm ICT by admin  

By Prabhat Sharan
Mumbai, April 25 (IANS) Seven performing artists, among them TV actresses Sudha Chandran and Rajeshwari Sachdev-Badola, will showcase the sheer energy and rhythm of Indian classical dance through a ballet called “Urja” here Saturday. To be staged at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai, to mark World Dance Day Monday, the ballet hopes to make audiences appreciate classical dance forms - mainly kathak and bharatanatyam - at a time when they are more inclined towards pop and salsa.

The dances will reflect the “sheer ecstasy of the aesthetics of human body rhythms,” say the artists who permitted IANS to get a sneak preview of the show.

In a neon-lit hall in western Mumbai, the troupe - Chandran, Sachdev-Badola, Kishu Pal, Mayur Vaidya, Aditi Bhagvat and others - went through intricate steps as they practised.

The ballet, which is “a fusion and not a jugalbandi”, says noted danseuse Sudha Chandran, “is an attempt to arrest the death of an art. We are performing these dances to mark World Dance Day”.

Choreographer of “Urja,” Kishu Pal, who is a trained bharatanatyam dancer and a social activist, says: “We are not against pop dances but we feel that it’s time to revive the pure art.

“In other words what I mean is that the 2,000-year-old rarefied art encapsulating the sublime link between the human body and energy is fast fading from the Indian social canvas.”

Talking about the concept of “Urja”, Pal says: “What I have done is to take the primordial substratum of the cosmos. Most Indian philosophies accept that ‘panch bhuta’ or five elements comprise the formation of the cosmos and are the manifestation of energy, and hopefully our dance form would be able to spread it in our audience.”

Pal says all the dance sequences would be narrated by veteran Bollywood actor Raza Murad.

“Raza Murad would introduce and intersperse each and every dance with the historical and philosophical background of the form and genre which are primarily kathak and bharatanatyam,” Pal points out.

Actress, compere and dancer Sachdev-Badola, says: “Pop dances are quick foods and if it is pop then it is bound to be popular. Classical dance is an arduous journey. It requires fire in the belly and it is not everybody’s cup of tea to walk on this path.

“But then as I say it is a passion and I am performing it because of the passion and if my performance ignites interest in a small child then I will feel that I have managed to contribute to the art form.

“But I also do not agree with the supposition that classical dance is dying. It is a cycle and maybe we classical dancers are right now feeling like what hockey players and football players in India feel when they see cricketers basking in the sun.”

Mayur Vaidya, trained in kathak and the only male member in the ballet, puts it differently: “Today it is hip-hop, yesterday it was salsa, but the art which is seeing audiences dwindle with regularity is classical dance. Somewhere down the line everyone of us is responsible for trivialising each and every aspect of our life.”

According to Vaidya: “The belief that our dances are soft is a myth. The style which I am going to perform Saturday is extremely robust, energetic and pulsates with more masculine vibrancy than any genre. It is just that Indian society itself is not bothered about their art forms.”

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