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Dance for a Cause - An online workshop by Geeta Chandran
- Madhuja Mukhopadhyay
e-mail: mukhopadhyay.madhuja@gmail.com

May 16, 2020

The benefit of basic principles of dance to unlock and link body with mind during a lockdown was the key message of the online workshop conducted by Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran. This hour long interactive online session on Mother's Day morning called Dance for a Cause had four sections. She started her session with jogging as a warm up exercise which was followed by the traditional Bharatanatyam Namaskar. Her daughter Sharanya Chandran accompanied her for the demo. Mother explained the nuances of bhumi pranam while daughter showed the steps. According to Chandran, we all aspire through our karma and our journey through our whole process of life to engage with that supreme power. Entire philosophy of dance is enshrined in this little ritual of bhumi pranam.

In the second section, she played varied range of music starting from Bengali song Dhitang Dhitang Bole, Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky, a Kalbelia song and few more and asked participants to dance for them. She herself performed along with Sharanya for the music. The importance of this section was to show how our body reacts to different genre of music. This was another form of warm up and a lesson to body conditioning.

In the third section, Chandran beautifully demonstrated all nine emotions -shringaram, veeram, karunyam, adbhutam, bibhatsam, bhayam, roudram, hasyam, shantam - and connected each one of them to our mundane lockdown chores through her strong abhinaya. Chandran mentioned one should hold an expression and be able to convey message through that expression. That is what we need to learn and need to empathize when things around are going wrong.



Final section was interactive where she answered questions by the participants. Chandran thinks the human body is capable of doing much more than we think. We really don't know since we never explore enough of our body. Basic nature of people is to dance. Dance in many ways makes you uninhibited and helps in exploring the capacity of your body and mind.

Attendees were not limited to dancers. People from different age groups and diverse backgrounds joined the session organized by Habitat for Humanity India. It was a fundraising event for COVID-19 Pandemic Response. Chandran's choice of the day was delivery of simple messages through her well planned curriculum which summarized as warm up, obeisance to Mother Earth, importance of music and its effect on human body and basic human emotions. You don't need to be a dancer to understand these simple philosophies of life.

This session was indeed inspiring and a great lesson to adapt to the changes happening around us.

Madhuja Mukhopadhyay is a disciple of Kolkata based Bharatanatyam Guru Madhuboni Chatterjee. She is also a software consultant by profession and currently a resident of New York, USA.


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