Sonali Loomba takes Kathak to the USA

Kathak dancer Sonali Loomba is now propagating the classical form in the US

July 09, 2019 11:49 am | Updated July 12, 2019 05:41 pm IST

 Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129.  Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Sonali Loomba is a Kathak dancer who shifted to the US recently. It was always her dream to start a dance school and that came true in the US a couple of months ago.

Called Kaladharaa Dance School, Sonali has over 30 students in Utah where she now resides. The young dancer was in Bengaluru to meet her teachers — Hari and Chethana and also to learn from them.

Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129.  Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

“You never stop learning. I am lucky to have found teachers such as mine. They have not only taught me Kathak, but have also instilled a great love for this form in such a manner that I am passionate about this form,” says Sonali, who is an instructor, performer and choreographer.

To continue with her learning, she connects with her teachers here on Skype. “It is nothing like learning in person. It does, however, help me get started with learning something new,” says Sonali who was in the city for a short learning period. She has been a part of prestigious dance festivals in India like the Hampi Utsav, Brahmotsav and Sri Jayadev Rastriya Samaroh, besides the North American Festival of Colors, Living Traditions, World Folk Fest and the Utah Arts Festival.

 Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129.  Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Lost in time

“During my initial days in Utah, I felt a little lost. So, I started attending various dance performances there. After each show, I would make it a point to meet the dancers and share the story of my dance journey. Most of these meetings ended with a short Kathak dance demonstration by me,” smiles Sonali, who was soon invited by educational institutes and workshops to demonstrate this art form.

One thing led to another and Sonali not only started her dance school in the US, but she was also selected to perform at the TEDx Salt Lake City to showcase Kathak, scheduled in September this year. She will also be performing at the First Lahti Fringe Festival, Finland. She won the Best in State (Utah) Award under the ‘Individual Dancer’ category for 2019 and the Sri Jayadev Rastriya Yuva Prativa Puraskar.

 Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129.  Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Bengaluru / Karnataka : Sonali Loomba Kathak Dancer pose for Metro Plus (pic to go with Shilpa's copy) on 22 June 20129. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy/ The Hindu

Though she is not very fascinated with contemporary dance, “as someone has to keep the original form alive,” she is open to collaborating with artistes across the globe. Sonali is currently working on a Kathak and Flamenco collaboration, titled ‘A Passion for Percussion: Exploring the Kathak-Flamenco Kinship’. This work, with flamenco dancer Katie Sheen-Abbott, will be staged at the end of this year.

Sonali also dreams of organising an “Indian Classical Dance and Music Festival in Utah and inviting artistes who have dedicated their lives to promoting and preserving the ancient, traditional and rich heritage of India. That will take more time and work; but it will happen soon.”

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