Demystifying session at The Lowry by Upasana  
- Niral Thakkar, Bolton, UK 

February 13, 2005 

I have deep interest in various art forms, specifically dance as my origin is from India, where I have seen pure dance forms being learnt, practiced and respected.  

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the 31st January demystifying session at The Lowry presented by Upasana’s artistic director Deepa Ganesh and her students. When the diyas (lamps) were lit and flowers were offered in prayers to 'the god of dance,' it felt like being transported to an environment that was almost divine, rightly suitable for the workshop to take place. The performance by girls under the age of 12 was spellbinding. The costumes, makeup and the level of skill they presented were authentic and impressive. It was heartening to see the beauty of this art being nurtured and inculcated into the young minds and hearts.  
The strength of the audience was quite high and each one of them could easily follow the basics of Bharatanatyam demonstrated by Deepa, testifying to her brilliant communicating skills. Someone totally new to the whole dance form was so captivated that she expressed a serious intention to start training in it. Some of the audience members tried a couple of steps alongside Deepa to get a feel of the dance form, which gave each one a chance to experience it on a basic level. It is indeed a tough job to introduce Bharatanatyam in its pure form to an audience, the majority of who do not have any idea of what is in store for them. However the excitement with which the audience reacted showed that they had got much more than they had expected. 

Since local audiences generally believe that Indian dance is mainly vibrant movements and energetic gestures, it can be daunting to introduce concepts of feeling and emotion in a subtle and philosophical manner. But there has to be a beginning somewhere and this beginning is always the toughest. 

On my part, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of being there. I could see the happiness and confidence on the dancers' faces as they performed. The fact that they had reached this level of proficiency spoke of regular practice, dedication, interest and involvement in their dance, nurtured by the able guidance of their teacher. When you are involved in the whole process, you feel good about things around you, from within.  

This is a fantastic initiative by Deepa and my best wishes to her and the company. 

Niral is a Marketing Assistant at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, focusing on Audience Development strategies.