I am often asked to teach younger students in our regular weekly lessons. I go over steps from our graded exams or revise dances and polish their steps. Not only does this help them, it also increases my confidence in teaching. This is a clip of me going through the technique of a step from our grade three syllabus.
The Asian Spring Festival is an event organised each year by Sampad in honour of the local Asian talent. This dance event is a showcase of all indian styles including Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Bollywood and Bhangara. 2012 was the first year Anjali Dance Group were invited to perform. We performed a dance named Rydhun, which we had previously performed in other places. The experience was new to us as we had never danced in a place as big as the Adrian Boult hall in front of such a large audience from all over Birmingham and the West midlands. Our performance was successful, but not without the occasional positioning issue as we were slightly lost on such a large stage. Everyone enjoyed our performance, with special commendations for our visual impact and we have invited to perform there again this year.
The other performances were breathtaking with their amazing technique, stunts and crowd pleasing music. The event was very enjoyable.
To find out more about Kalaripayattu visit:
To find out more about Chhau visit:
What was the Event?
Sampad a group working to establish south Indian arts in Birmingham had organised an event called Moving Earth in which 240 dancers took part to perform in celebration of the queens diamond jubilee and for the arrival of the Olympic torch in Birmingham (canon hill park). The event was a dance of roughly 10 minutes in which of the different elements: fire, air, water, space and earth were portrayed through dance. There were roughly 3 groups of 12 for each element dancing simultaneously. Each of these groups was formed from well-known dance troops in Birmingham, whether they were South Asian or not. We were each given a segment of music composed by Praveen D Rao. The challenge was for each groups to have their own dance style ad also incorporate the chau style of dance. This was because the organiser of the event Santosh Nayar was a renowned dancer of this style.
You can find out more about this event on the following website:
How did we go about doing the dance?
From my dance group 12 people of varying ages participated. We were given the element air. To make this different from any other dance we had ever done before we decided to try salsa as our main style and attempted to balance that with chau. To ensure we fully understood what chau was we were sent instructive video clippings. As well as this Saju Hari had arrived from India to carry out workshops with each group.
After we had gained a full understanding on both dance styles nd how they worked together we choreographed a dance and spent many weeks practising it. Our time was spent learning the dance an co-ordinating. This was because our speed of learning was slowed by the fact we studying a nw dance and the flowing movements of salsa were difficult to match between the group. Roughly 5 weeks before our performance Santhosh Nayar and Piyali Ray visited to view our progress. They gave us some final tips about positioning and co-ordinaton.
The trousers were provided by sampad and were a lavender colour to represent air. Fire were given red, Earth were given brown, space were gi grey and water were given blue. We were also provided with a scarf and after purchasing our own tops w had to wear this in an artistic way.
On the day…
We met up for one dress rehearsal and the following week we met in Chamberlain square, ready to perform. After painting our foreheads in a colour co-ordinating with our elemet we were sent outside to perform.
The reviews recieved were exclellent especially those on mixing so many different styles of dance and those on the finale whch looked spectacular with a ttal of 240 dancers perforing the dramatic chau movemnts. Many people commented that the visual effect ws excellent.
The dancers take the darkened stage
in a shuffling shimmer of sound-
bells murmur and glint in the gloom before
the lights rise and dawn.
They are wrapped like gifts in satin and silk
scarlet and plum and cerulean folding into petal waves and pleats,
dark throaty maroon, dipping into trim waists, glinting
with gold tucked unto every corner.
The music throbs and the dancers are
thrust into movement, whirls of sunset balanced
on toes dipped in dusty, rosy red.
They slap their heels on the floor, and it’s the slap of
dough against a wooden board. They crook their wrists
and it’s a girl flirting with her lover.
They raise cupped hands to their faces
and it’s one hundred generations,
quenched by the same river.
They twirl and are fragmented
in kaleidoscopic force, eye tricking
mind dazzling, my gaze is scattered
with the music and adornments of their art, with
red lips and glinting of a thousand flecks of light,
I settle onto one and set my flat and snowy brain
to learn their lush secrets:
her fingertips, red to the first knuckle, spelling out signs
that have lived a thousand sun-baked years,
the swell of her poised hip, a leg branched high,
the white flash in the eye as she glances up and to the left,
with a tilt of the head and a smirk,
passed down her mother’s side,
hidden in the corner of her lips.
This is a poem based on a girl’s bharatanatyam performance, which I feel a lot of dancers could relate to.