Hema Malini, Bharatanatyam - Indonesian dancer loves everything about India (With Image)

March 14th, 2009 - 12:25 pm ICT by IANS  

By Azera Rahman
Bali, March 14 (IANS) Didik Nini Thowok is one of the most celebrated dancers of Indonesia. A multi-faceted artist who has mastered various forms of dance, he is globally renowned. But guess which country has Thowok lost his heart to? India.

“India is a fascinating country. I have learnt various dance forms, including Bharatanatyam. But if you ask me which dance form I think is the most soulful, it has be the Indian classical dance. It is beautiful,” Thowok told IANS before his performance in a cultural programme at the International Bali India Yoga festival.

A dancer, singer, comedian, make-up artist, mimer, actor and teacher, Thowok is a multi-hued talent. He is also one of the select few artists who maintain the ancient art of cross-gender representation in dance. His impersonating female characters and performing the mask dance (Topeng) has floored audiences worldwide.

“Not all dance forms are like the Indian dances. Or the Japanese and Chinese opera for that matter. In these dance forms the movements are very meditative. Dance is so much more than a synchronised movement, it has to have a soul,” Thowok, 54, said.

“In fact the hand movements in the Javanese dance and Bharatanatyam are very similar and I have included the mudras of Bharatanatyam in a number of pieces that I have choreographed,” he explained.

His India-inspired “Draupadi’s Swayamvar”, for instance, has been quite a success in Indonesia.

A yoga enthusiast who has been practising the art for the last one year now, Thowok said that it has helped him a lot as a dancer.

“Yoga teaches you how to control your breathing movements, to focus, and of course is a great exercise. This is very important for any artist and has benefited me a great deal,” he said.

Having visited India a number of times, there is more than one Indian classical dance form that Thowok loves.

“When my mother was carrying me in her womb, she had a craving that was quite unlike other pregnant women who usually crave for sour or sweet food. She craved for Hindi movies! I guess that’s how my love for Indian movies began!” Thowok laughed.

But asked about the latest Hindi movie he had watched, Thowok almost looked guilty.

“I hardly get the time to watch any movie nowadays. Moreover I don’t really like the dances in the Hindi movies these days. The real diva of the Hindi screen was Hema Malini. When she dances, she lights up the screen.

“Probably I like her more because she is a classical dancer and her dance moves reflect that,” Thowok said.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.p@ians.in )

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