Letting go of dance rules 
- Nayana Bhat, Bangalore
e-mail: nritarutya@rediffmail.com

October 25, 2008 
September 12, 2008 was a day of tremendous stress, followed by relief. Putting up a dance production with 400 children was not a cake walk, although, the satisfaction post the hard work was worthwhile. My colleague Geetha and I choreographed a 1-hour long dance production for 400 children from a renowned institution in Bangalore.

It was an elaborate set up, where we had to fix a theme on Bollywood, formulate a storyline and eventually, a script, alongside which, choreograph 12 dance pieces for 12 different sections of second, third and fourth grades. We began with the choreography bit. Although work began two months prior to the event, it was a tight schedule considering the regular school holidays, 5-day week, festivals etc. 

In three weeks of choreography, 12 songs were done. Soon the scripting followed and training for the narrators began. Parallel to all these activities, we had the designs discussed with the school authority and got the costumes designed. Properties were marked and designed as well in another two weeks. The last bit that remained was looping the dances and the narration together. This was quite hysterical as dealing with 400 little brats at once isn't any fun job! Getting one section to listen to you itself is a task. Getting 400 of them to listen to you is not a joke. Getting 400 little ones listen to you is an impossible task. Screaming over the microphone, threatening to throw them out of rehearsals, threatening to disqualify the class from the production, no punishment ever seemed to work. Being a teacher takes immense amount of patience, we learnt. 

Also being a dance teacher to these tiny ones meant letting go of all the dance rules such as rhythm, beat, precision etc., and see the beauty in the children as it is. It took time and effort but yes, it worked. 

The show day was a mess as usual. Someone's costumes weren't in place, someone hadn't turned up, the stage just wasn't alright, the lights didn't fade out at the right moment, wrong songs were played at the wrong time, dialogues were forgotten, properties fell here and there. But still the performance received a standing ovation by a crowd that outnumbered a thousand. The children were beaming as usual and stole the show, nevertheless.

Nayana Bhat is a dancer of Bangalore based contemporary dance company Nritarutya.