Nanna Dance Kathe (My story of dance)
- Hemanth Kumar, Bangalore
April 18, 2010
I have been dancing since I was 12 yrs old. Lucky enough for me, I have always danced for an audience, at small gatherings and family get-togethers. My siblings, friends, cousins, would put on some music and ask me to dance. It was the popular song "Urvashi Urvashi…," from the movie ‘Kaadalan,' that was my first dance inspiration and first dance ever.
Gradually, I started performing at school. Once, I vividly remember dancing as a hero in an Adivasi dance, with others around me dressed in leaves! I also danced for a piece as an invisible man; another time, I acted as a chair- prop!
My holidays meant my working at an Agarbatti (incense sticks) factory and sometimes visit my grandmother. Close to her house was Vijaya Film Institute and there would be people practicing dance, and I would go and watch them all the time. While on school trips, I would be made to dance in the bus too; all the encouragement always got to me. Later, we shifted to the city. This gave me good opportunity to visit dance classes and I would do so daily after school. Since I wasn't allowed inside, I would stand at the window and watch, and make friends with the dancers.
Luckily the dance master saw me and once asked me to assist them for a show. From this take off point, I would go and assist the dancers for their shows, even when they didn't call. Once the dance master used me as a prop; I was asked to stand for 20 seconds on the stage and exit. It was a break for me! In a competition at Yelahanka, Snehitara koota, my happiness knew no bounds when we were put in the front row to dance, but only later we realized our hands and faces were to be covered; we couldn't even see. But we managed to bag the consolation prize.
I soon quit because of certain issues. There were some more things to combat. My family wasn't happy, so they wouldn't allow me to join classes or help me monetarily, but my passion took over and I continued to dance and practice with other classes on invitation. Two of my seniors worked with me on my flexibility and warm ups. Raghu and Naveen helped me learn dance sequences and perform them. We did more than 400 stage programs with them. During these times, it used to get late for us and we would actually end up walking five kilometers back home.
Too many violations and we left as a group for good. Sai Arts International happened soon after that. Since they were short of people, we would join them for many collaborations and shows. I remember once wearing elaborate costumes for a Bharatanatyam dance drama collaboration, under this banner. I started conducting classes for them. They had two branches, and would have to travel around 250 kilometers to Dhavangere, twice a week for the same.
At one class, while rehearsing the front flip, I lost balance, fell down and suffered a lower back hairline injury. This was grave, very serious injury; I couldn't move my body at all and hence had to give up dancing for more than a year. I did resume as a freelance dancer for stage shows.
Meanwhile Rohan called me for auditions with Nritarutya. I was acquainted with their work since I had seen a couple of their shows. I got through the auditions and my term with Indian Contemporary dance saw its dawn. I initially worked part time with the team for I was still working with Tata Indicom. Once my term with them ended, I joined here full time.
It became a new experience for me to live "different." I was a full time dancer. I dance now to my heart's content, grow and learn every single moment to the fullest. Having done shows and choreographies and traveling with Nritarutya, to Dubai and Pakistan World Performing Arts Festival, have been unforgettable experiences.
In my family no one likes dancing… they feel there is no life in this. To me, it doesn't matter. When one is dancing, one should be ready for both success and failure. What counts is commitment to the work. Change is a persistent factor. Challenges are to be faced anyway. You win some and lose some, but doesn't mean that you don't pursue them at all! I will and hence I have pursued dance, for I am committed and shall always be to whatever I do… for now, it's Dance!
Hemanth Kumar is a senior dancer of Bangalore based contemporary dance company Nritarutya.