Choreographer and contemporary dancer, Maja Drobac, considers Bharatnatya a beautiful dance form
Maja Drobac, a choreographer and contemporary dancer from Croatia, made Bangalore her home five years ago. Maja's association with dance began when she was a child.
“When I was four years old, I had attended a dance performance at the theatre. It stayed with me. It influenced me enough to choose dance as a career,” says Maja.
Maja graduated from Theatre School in Amsterdam under the modern dance department. Following this, she studied at the School for Contemporary Dance of Ana Maletiæ, the Laban Movement Analysis, and School for Classical Ballet in Zagreb.
India, initially, was not her preferred choice. “I wanted to go to every other country, except for India. I came to India because I did not have any plans to go there. I trained in Bharatnatya for two years in Kerala at the Bhaskara College of Fine Arts. It was tough. It was a completely different culture, and I had to learn everything from scratch. But now, when I look back, it was a beautiful experience,”
She later came to Bangalore and trained under Lalitha Srinivasan and mridangam vidwan Chaluvaraju. Among her most successful pieces to have been staged are “Squirrels on the Loose” and “Squirrels Strike Back”.
Bharatnatya, according to Maja, has a distinct style of its own, and a student needs discipline and dedication to learn it. Though Bharatnatya is very different from other dance forms,
Maja says she found some similarities with classical ballet. “Bharatnatya, like ballet, has a structure, a technique and a history to it.”
When asked to define dance, Maja simply says it is an exaggerated movement.
“For me, even people walking on the street are a sort of a natural choreography. The definition of dance differs from person to person. But it is really about movement. It is an art form, however, that has evolved to include knowledge and technique.”
Maja also researched on Devadasis, but she did not think it wise to publish her findings. She explains that the subject matter grew on her. That it got too close to her heart to be published.
She says her life never went according to plan. “Again, on hindsight, I understand that even though events did not occur as I had hoped, I am happy with the experiences I have gained. In Croatia there is a proverb that, when loosely translated, means, ‘if you keep aiming towards a goal, you miss out on everything else'. My career has been shaped without any conscious decision.”