The promising onset of Celebrate Dance 2010 series
- - Sindhoor Pangal

May 12, 2010

Her lips quiver, her fingers tremble, her eye lashes flutter as she depicts Radha drinking the nectar from Krishna's lips. As Sujata Mohapatra, a leading Odissi dancer, sensually moves across the stage, the audience is spellbound. Watching her is a pleasure. Learning from her is a blessing! So when the opportunity to learn from her came by me, I did the only thing to do - grab it!

I heard from Vyjayanti Kashi, that she was bringing an Abhinaya workshop by Sujata Mohapatra to Bangalore. My delight knew no bounds. The fact that I had my own performance a week away and the challenge of scheduling my rehearsals after this workshop, did not deter me from instantly registering for the workshop. And I booked a spot for myself in a hurry, lest it gets booked out!

Armed with directions scribbled on a piece of paper, I headed out on a Saturday morning, trying to find my way to Shambhavi Dance Theater in Kengeri. A pleasant drive brought me to the wonderful ambience of Shambhavi Dance Theatre. The terracotta tiled theatre sits pretty in a garden with dainty flowering plants and fruit trees that house chirping birds and bees. A cool breeze welcomed me as I got out of my car and walked towards the theatre. Inside, I saw several inspirational images, quotes and awards. I knew, instantly, that dancing here was going to be an experience to cherish.

We started the three day workshop with Vyjayanti Kashi explaining to us her sentiment towards the Guru-Shishya parampara. Kashi has benefited immensely from this system and is eager for us, younger dancers, to experience the same. As a tribute to this system, she had invited Sujata Mahopatra, who, also hailing from the same system, shares Kashi's sentiment and seemed equally eager to give us a taste of this system. I saw the immense learning experience this was going to be and could not wait for it all to start.

Over the next three days, I was immersed in dance. Sujata Mohapatra taught us the way to move our body with such grace. She spoke to us about her Guru and his undying passion. We spent hours trying to learn what seemed rather effortless to her. We spent our breaks discussing dance. The workshop had attracted students of different dance forms - Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi. We spoke about the differences in our forms and the similarity. We spoke about our love for dance. One evening, we were treated to a performance by Sujata Mohapatra.

The three days came to an end before I knew it. Of course, I could not find a single muscle in my body that was not sore. In the three days, I had driven almost 80 kms each day, driving between home, workshop and my dance rehearsals. But I had gained more than I had expected. Spending more than 6 hours each day with such an accomplished dancer had an added benefit. It gave us a glimpse of the special Guru-Shishya bond, which when fully forged, is more than just a tutelage system. It can be an enriching life experience.

I must admit that, as certain as I was about learning new and exciting things at the workshop, I did have concerns about the relevance of this Odissi training to my Bharatanatyam. However, I soon realized that lessons from such great exponents transcend stylistic differences. In fact, when I tried one of the moves I learnt from her at my last Bharatanatyam show, the audience appreciated it greatly. I did not realize that a three day workshop could give me the best move of my entire performance.

Vyjayanthi Kashi is bringing to us several such workshops as part of the Celebrate Dance Series 2010 as a response to her receiving the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. This gesture from Kashi, where she has provided us with the opportunity to learn from the best, bears testimonial to her dedication to the art and to her generosity as a Guru. If the first of the series is any indication to the caliber of these workshops, then this series is definitely a must-do for all dancers this year. I eagerly await the rest of this series to unravel and I sincerely wish Vyjayanthi Kashi the very best in such future endeavors.

Sindhoor has been learning Bharatanatyam for more than 14 years, is well versed with the theory of dance and well read on dance literature. She appeared for the senior dance exam conducted by Karnataka Secondary Education & Examination board and secured first class. She is currently preparing for her pre-Vidwat examination with the same board.