The workshop we had was fantastic. Saju Hari was an amazing dancer and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The moves he had spent years practising and the inspiring stories he told us about his own life in dance were also fantastic. He encouraged us to explore creatively and made us truly understand the way in which air moves, as this was the element we were given to portray. The flowing moments (a breeze) and the sharp movements (in a storm). As well as this he gave us ideas on how to subtly combine salsa, our chosen dance type, and chhau through some similar movements in both the styles. While doing this he showed us some simple, yet effective chhau movements that could be adapted according to our wish.
Anusha Subhramanyam, renowned dancer and teacher, came to our dance class to give us a workshop on dance and exercise. She presented her unique way of learning dance to us and we really enjoyed our time with her. First she showed us a fun and lively, but effective way to warm up and explained the importance of doing so. Next we worked on some basic steps of Bharatanatyam and after observing what we could do, she taught us a way i which to turn even the most simplest of steps into something exciting through facial expression. We explored the behaviour and characteristics of certain animals and worked on how to improve our dance by putting these into each step. This was a fantastic way of understanding the impact of expression. We finished with a cooling down activity, which she also explained the importance of. Finally she gave time to narrate her experience as a dancer ad teacher, which was very inspirational.
As well as man other things, Anusha is also a teacher at CAT, the centre for advanced training and following our workshop with her and watching some of our other performances she selected some of us to audition for the recently created Bharatanatyam programme. Although I turned down the place I was offered I really enjoyed the whole process, including the audition, and enjoyed learning how contemporary dance could be mixed with Bharatanatyam.
I have always been interested in arts, ever since I was very young and I have been taking part in many areas of this. I have learning dance for almost 7 years, more specifically the Indian Classical dance of Bharatanatyam. I really enjoy this and have progressed to grade 5 in Oriental Board of Examination London, taking part in many perfomances along with the rest of Anjali Dane Group. However for the past 2 years, I’ve also started learning Kathak. This is more informally, without specific grading, but I have focused more on the contemporary side as well. In addition to dance I have also taken part in singing events in SSAG and have even achieved grade 1 in Carnartic music. Finally I have been learning the piano and finished grade 3 with the Trinity Board.
As part of another celebration of the opening of the Olympics an event was held throughout the England in which bells from all over the country would be rung simultaneously for 3 minutes at 08:12 on the 27th of July. This included doorbells, bicycle bells and even church bells. As part of a promotional news news coverage 3 members of our Anjali dance group were used, with dance bells around our feet, for an afternoon show.
As a sign that a pupil has reached a satisfactory performance level in Bharanatyam, or other classical dance styles, they must perform their debut solo act as an arangetram. The word in tamil means “raising or reaching to the stage.” It takes place in front of critics, fellow artists, family and friends. It is a traditional sign that a dancer can move on to perform alone or give training to others. Many years of practising must be put into reaching this stage as the dancer must have a thorough understanding of music and other dance aspects.
The performance lasts for three hours, requiring a lot of stamina, and is divided into 2 parts.
- pushpanjali or alaripu– salutation to God
- jatiswaram– complex dance sequence
- shabdham– devotional mix of dance and expression
- Varnam– dance and expression with the theme of love
- Padam– based on the states of mind of a woman in love (nayika)
- Ashtapadhi or Bhajan– dance based on a poem either devotional or romantic
- Thillana– mainly pure dance, with some devotional verses
- Mangala– salutation to God, the teacher, and thanks to the audience for making the performance a success.
Last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to two arangetrams. The first was the performance of Neelam Deshmukh and the 2nd was by Anaya Bolar on the 23rd September. These events were spectacular and showed knowledge and understanding of years of dance as well as the passion they ha for it. Though both of them had selected different items to show their different states within India they both danced with technical precision, remarkable stamina and involved the audience throughout, beautifully convincing them of the messages in the items.
To celebrate our dance groups fifth anniversary we organised an event in the Solihull arts complex. There was a curtain raiser from Atreyee Bhattacharya.
The main performance was a one and a haf hour dance drama which depicted the Ramayan. As all members of Anjali took part the age group varied from about 5 to 50.
Some people were given character roles to act out in Bharatanatyam dance style and the story was brought to life through exciting dance sequences of not only Bharatanatyam but also kathak, Bollywood and contemporary. Although our main focus was to depict the Ramayan we had placed more emphasis on the character Seeta and so the event was named “Seeta a Saga…”
This programme was a very interesting one for me as I took part in many areas of preparation.
My Own Dancing
There were many dance sequences in which others of my age and I played extras adding texture to the stage. For my own performance I was given the role of Hanuman. The first step was to pick out scenes that involved my character and make notes of the script. The next stage was to roughly plan out actions that would match each line. Once I had confirmed these I found that although I was confident of the steps that varying paces of speech had to be looked into so each movement looked instant and natural. To conquer this I had to listen to the track even when i was not dancing to fully memorize each expression and timing of the words. Once I felt I had achieved this I had to truly understand my character to really convince the audience. Hanuman is actually in the form of a monkey, mischievous yet also elegant and it was difficult to balance this. To find a way to portray this detailed character I looked at various you tube clips of people who had previously done this.
As well as being involved in teaching and performing myself I also played an active part in creating stage props to set the scene. I created a tree behind which characters could hide or use as a prop to move around in expressing the words. I also made masks for demons. Finally a sequence in which my group had to build a bridge required rocks which I also made. The costs were covered by my advisor and I as well as anyone else using the supplies.
On the Day….
On the Day I had a fantastic time performing as well as watching my group. I helped with getting younger students ready and coordinating their stage make- up. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, especially teaching which was new to me. I really hope I can participate in something like this again as I thought it was fun to do dance in the from of a drama.
The Solihull South Asian Group held its annual diwali event on November the 24th and our dance group as well as members of all other ages took part to put on a show as a tribute for the greatest actresses in Bollywood history. There were also young children’s performnces in the first half of the event.
My own Dance
The first thing I performed was part of a group of young girls in a kathak sequence. My part was to contrast theirs with a scene of morning. I found this very difficult as I had never really performed much kathak before and to make an emotional impact as a soloist was quite challenging. It took a lot of practise to make the movement both fluid and accurate.
We also, as Anjali Dane Group, performed a devotional piece called Igiri Nandini.
As part of a tribute my peers and I did in honour of modern actresses I performed in dances called Tum hi ho Bandhu and Ishq Kamina taught to me by another member of Anjali Dance Group. The hardest part of learning the dances was to make sure we had a great energy impact as we were one of the smallest groups performing. However since the five of us performing Tum hi ho Bandhu have often worked together in the past we found that as a group, we coordinated and worked together well.
On the day…
On the day the performances went well. However I think I was incredibly nervous for the solo performances which affected my confidence on stage. Our Anjali Group’s performance well, but the lighting may have been better if it was brighter to see the full movement and expressions. Finally Tum hi ho Bandhu was fantastic and was well received by the audience. The five of us are performing the same sequence at The Sampad event of Bollywoods got Talent celebrating 100 years of Bollywood in May 2013.