Unique experience of interacting with stalwarts in different classical dance styles
- Lakshmi Ramaswamy and Savitha Venkatapathy
e-mail: lakshmirramaswamy@yahoo.com

January 8, 2011

'Prayathnam', (a registered organization formed 'by and for' young dance teachers to enrich and widen learning experiences), had organized a workshop on Indian classical dances for 5 days between 26th to 30th December 2010. Students and teachers from various dance institutions participated in the workshop. Sessions were organized for one hour every day, in which, exponents of 5 different classical dance forms shared their valuable thoughts and experiences. Participants were fortunate to learn the specialties of each style from great stalwarts.

Guru Leela Samson gave an energetic start, with tips for getting a neat posture and breathing techniques. With her fresh approach to the traditional form, she shared her secret of how she builds life into each movement and expression. She opened minds to enjoy every bit of a movement and how each movement could be given to the audience, as a nice gift.

Guru Mayadhar Raut and Madhumita Raut shared about the Odissi Paddachari. Madhumita explained the basic postures in Odissi that are in lines of 'square' and 'triangle'. She also demonstrated how the shoulder was used to get the third deflection in the body. The participants also got to try doing a few steps in Odissi.
The participants with Kathakali Guru Sadanam Harikumar

Guru Sadanam Harikumar handled the third day of the workshop giving an insight into the history of this theatre form, and spoke about the basics in Kathakali like - the 'curved placement' of the leg and the scientific reason behind it. He described the space available for a Kathakali artist for improvisation and imagination, both in performance and dialogue rendering as well as the massage and exercises given under personal care of the 'aasaans' (teachers). He also demonstrated the scene where Ravana lifts the 'Kailasha parvatha'.
The participants with Kuchipudi Guru Ratna Kumar

Ratna Papa Kumar was full of enthusiasm while she narrated the uniqueness of the Kuchipudi dance style. She put in plain words, how a complicated movement looked very simple and also how a simple movement looked complicated by the use of the eyes and hands. She eagerly shared with us a few steps in Kuchpudi, just in the way she had learnt from her revered Guru Vempati Chinna Sathyam.

The final day had the master class by Shyamala Surendran who explained the beauty of curves and circles in Mohiniattam steps. She demonstrated the 'adavu-s', set categories of 'taganam', 'jaganam' etc., their subtle variations and made the participants try adavus and eye exercises.

The workshop gave a firsthand information from the masters of each field, informal, yet informative. All the sessions were interactive giving the participants space to find answers for some of their questions. One only wished that such a rare chance to interact with top masters could have been used by more number of teachers in the city.