Their unique style has earned Chennai-based all girls dance ensemble a chance to perform at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow this July

A Chennai-based all girls dance ensemble that engages in dance theatre will perform at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow this July. High Kicks, founded by Aparna Nagesh in 2011, is all about touching the heart through dance.

Aparna has been dancing for 17 years. And after working with a few commercial dance companies in Chennai, she left for New York to study dance. “When I came back, I realised that the potential for female roles in dance was not being optimised. Also, dance was merely being promoted for corporate events or reality shows,” she says. Aparna also felt that the current crop of dancers wanted to take it beyond a hobby. “But they had no guidance. At High Kicks, we create productions and performances with a story or theme behind them.”

The group has been invited to perform in Glasgow, this July. “We will perform a seven-minute version of our production ‘Leap - Into Love’, which will discuss everything from first love to a cherished relationship,” she says. High Kicks was selected as one of the nine companies from around the world that will perform between July 10 and July 12. There will be 10 groups from the U.K. as well. “We will be performing at the iconic Tramway Theatre,” she adds. Fourteen members of the group will go to the festival.

Although High Kicks is not folk or classical dance, and experiments with styles, the response to their work has so far been good, says Aparna. “When the director of the festival came down, we actually asked why we were picked. She said we have a unique movement vocabulary that is neither completely western nor Indian. They said they had not seen that kind of style before. As a choreographer, this is heartening because that is what I’ve tried to do over the years.” The other Indian group that will perform at Glasgow is a classical dance group from Kerala.

The group is also working on their new production ‘The Seeker’, loosely based on the life of the Buddha and Asoka. “It is about a man seeking enlightenment, about Siddhartha before he became the Buddha. It will also talk about Asoka before and after he witnessed war,” she adds. “Our productions have had a very good response here so far. We have come to realise that our shows touch hearts because at the end of each performance, people have been moved to tears because they could relate to the subject on stage. It is amazing because we don’t want people to just watch but also try to make them feel and react to what we are saying. We want a conversation,” says Aparna.