WORKSHOP Dance Jathre 2011 by Shambhavi School of Dance was an opportunity for experts to reach out to dance enthusiasts through a series of such workshops

W e sat entranced as the renowned Odissi exponent Madhavi Mudgal demonstrated the Tribhanga –– slowly and flawlessly aligning her head, waist and feet towards a perfect posture while urging the young dancers before her to watch closely and imitate her moves. A few managed, the others who could not were gently corrected by Madhavi. At the end of her one-hour workshop, the participants were clamouring for more but there was another session coming up.

Dance Jathre 2011 by Shambhavi School of Dance presented opportunities for experts to reach out to dance-enthusiasts through a series of such workshops. Conceived and organised by Shambhavi-founder and renowned Kuchipudi dancer, Vyjayanthi Kashi, it also offered a variety of other platforms for the art. There were competitions for budding artistes in solo-dance and choreography categories; evening performances by famous dancers; and interestingly, a marketplace for dance-related paraphernalia. All related to different dance-forms.

Vyjayanthi elaborated: “For me dance goes beyond my own performances. Dance for me is about sharing. Hence, besides Kuchipudi, my Jathre offers platforms for both academic-sessions and performances in all forms ranging from Bharatanatyam to salsa and from Mohiniattam to western classical ballet. It's also a network zone for dance professionals. I also like to encourage young talent in all forms, hence the competitions in classical forms and contemporary dance too.”

But the bazaar concept was intriguing. There was a row of stalls –– exhibiting and/or retailing dance costumes, books, photographs, jewellery, ‘dance-wall', mudra- paintings, etc. Cultural visionary Vyjayanthi explained: “I have always wondered why Indian classical dance can't be an industry –– like cinema for eg.–– which provides a livelihood. In fact, many youngsters who learn dance believe it can't become a profession. These stalls are my way of stimulating people to think of the different ways in which dance can become an industry and profession.”

Madhavi's workshop was followed by a kalari one by Ranjan Mullaratt. He got participants to try out ashtavadivu or eight animal poses. He and his team then delighted participants by demonstrating –– on their request –– some dramatic leaps and a few techniques used in battle scenes.

Germany-based Rajyashree Ramesh, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent, and certified movement analyst, came up with an interesting session titled, Sensing and Shaping Movement, wherein she showed how ordinary, everyday movements get translated into the stylised movements of classical dance –– including its complicated adavus.

After Vyjayanthi's interesting Kuchipudi workshop, Ahmedabad-based Kathak dancers and teachers Maulik Shah and Ishira Parikh demonstrated basic steps and chakkars of Kathak to a packed class which included expats wanting an intro to Indian dance; and young Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kuchipudi students. “We explained how to create patterns in the taal structure and how Kathak body movements correspond to these rhythm patterns,” they said.

For celebrated ballerina, choreographer and teacher Yana Lewis, her workshop was a “great way to reach out to students of classical Indian dance forms.” Yana explained how the training of muscles in a certain way and specific movements in classical ballet can help prevent many of the injuries Indian dancers are prone to. Interestingly, all workshops drew enthusiasts belonging to a range of dance-forms other than the one being taught/demonstrated.

Most participants expressed satisfaction with the interactive workshops. Budding Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer Radhika Prabhu said: “It was exciting and educative to experience so many dance styles from leading gurus under one roof.” Young Kathak and Bharatantyam exponent Nandita Mondal felt, “the Jathre was a kaleidoscope. I also discovered many things about my own potential as a dancer.”