Jayachandran Palazhy launches online dance classes —Attakkalari Connect— for the Covid-19 lockdown

Attakalari’s online dance classes - a combination of martial arts, yoga and dance - to keep fit during the lockdown

April 04, 2020 11:54 am | Updated 11:54 am IST - Kochi:

Dancers from the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts

Dancers from the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts

“When any disaster strikes, the first thing to go out is art,” says Jayachandran Palazhy, the contemporary dancer and Artistic Director of Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, Bangalore. Although Attakkalari has suspended classes following the country-wide Covid-19 lockdown, the group swiftly announced that ‘the Centre is closed, but the movement continues.’ Attakkalari Connect, their online dance classes, began as Facebook Live and Instagram live.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has pointed out that isolation and the related mental and physical stress and depression are going to be one of the biggest problems following the lock-downs and social distancing,” says Jayachandran, explaining why it is is important to keep mind and body healthy and tuned.

Attakkalari’s free online sessions help people to get some exercise ín the limited space available within their homes. Only an 8x8 feet space is needed with a mat. The exercises are designed to fit into a small space, while incorporating cardio-vascular moves set to enjoyable music. “When you move, you feel elated,” points out Jayachandran. “It also helps the people to connect. Interestingly, an online community is already forming around the sessions. More than introducing high artistic standards, we plan to introduce simple movements that are attractive to common people.” The movements are easy-to-do and can to be incorporated into your routine.

A mix of routines

Two daily sessions, present contemporary dance, Yoga, fitness training, Kalaripayattu and Bollywood dance. The instructors include Jayachandran, Hemabharathy Palani, Attakkalari’s Rehearsal Director; fitness instructor Harihara Palani; and senior dancer Anindita Ghosh — all of whom run the classes from their homes. Kalaripayattu sessions by Sreerag will soon start, as will Bollywood Dance by Sonia Soni and Pilates sessions by Akshata Joshi.

The motto of the whole project is ‘connect with your breath’. Breath or ‘Prana,’ says Jayachandran, is the basis of your whole life. “It is the time to focus on your breath, to strengthen and celebrate your breathing and your movement,” he states, adding that the classes will explain “how to connect your mind and body by rewiring your body, through sculpting in space and time with your breath, through your body.”

Jayachandran also points out that the online sessions are cut across barriers and borders: physical, political, geographical, linguistic and gender. “We have people from Iran, Mexico, many European countries and many parts of India,” he says. “When I am devising a class for these online sessions, I can also think about how the participants from different parts of the world will respond to it. I am not necessarily connecting with people of my locality.”

Those who want more than the 30-minute free sessions can sign up for online classes through Attakkalari Connect’s web page. “We need to work out plans to meet the expenses,” Jayachandran points out. “We have to find the means to pay the staff and pay rentals. We have around 25 employees. The dancers need to devise ways to create opportunities out of the difficulties!”

Meanwhile, Attakkalari continues its regular classes for their diploma students using the Zoom app , which helps teachers to keep track of the students. There are 20 students in the present batch who continue to attend the classes from their homes.

“Dance is a universal language, we usually say. I’d now say, digital dance is a universal language,” says Jayachandran, adding, “It travels across the entire world... It’s a democratic, egalitarian space.”

For more information log on to http://www.attakkalari.org/index.php?page=community-classes-2

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