- Geeta Ballal, Bangalore
the 5th of January, I set out to Kolkata to attend what was called DanceIntense
2, organized by Sampad South Asian Arts in collaboration with Ananda Shankar
Centre for Performing Arts, Kolkata. After a grueling 2 months of my company’s
home production work, this was something I was least excited to see – two
weeks of intense dance program.
in spite of my initial reluctance, I was taken aback to see the venue they
had chosen - Vedic Village - a beautiful expanse of greenery and ayurveda,
out of city limits. I welcomed this very nice change from my routine studio
rounds. What followed in the next two weeks was very special to every artiste
who has been in the program. Here are glimpses into my diary that I kept
during my stay in Vedic Village. I hope you can experience through these
little paragraphs, the beautiful journey I experienced through DanceIntense
Jan 6, 2008
It is my first
day here in Vedic village. A sleepless night precedes a whimsical morning.
At breakfast I meet the others who are to be part of my two weeks here.
It is a friendly encounter – speaking to each one of them, knowing their
backgrounds and so on. I was curious to meet all the Indians of foreign
citizenship. Glad that my colleague had traveled with me, I soon got to
discuss what I had learned of all of them and few from her as well.
day long dance intense would begin with a performance by each participant,
in this case, 17 in total. We are through a quick rehearsal in the morning,
which is followed by the performance evening. It’s freezing cold but we
got to dance nevertheless. I retire for the night feeling very excited
A quick breakfast
and off to our very first Intense session – Yoga with Navtej Singh Johar.
A methodical, thorough but refreshing session is soon followed by a session
of body conditioning by Natasha Bakht – strict, lenient, ‘rule’r and our
caretaker at DanceIntense. The participants are still trying to get
used to the idea of dancing for 12 hours in a day, when we are introduced
to the post lunch sessions taken by Aditi Mangaldas – who talked about
various inspirations and interesting choreographing concepts. The day finally
has ended and I was aching to get to my room to discuss the first ‘Intense’
day with my colleague. I can feel the next day is waiting on me like a
hunting hawk… patient and deadly…
get only better. Iron-man, push ups, abs exercises, triceps, thigh muscles
et al. My sore body is speaking for the rigor that Intense proceeded with.
On the dance front, it goes one step ahead with Preeti Patel’s Manipuri
and Thang-ta lessons. I enjoyed the session thoroughly though I am stuck
with the torso moving bit.
Oh… an aching
day today with Anil Panchal taking a session on Mayurbanj Chaau. A thorough
taskmaster and a perfectionist that he is, he also choreographs excellently.
I only know that this will get ‘better’ (don’t miss the pun) tomorrow.
thinking that tomorrow is an off from dance and that is making me smile.
Today only two sessions - contemporary Bharatanatyam influenced movements
by Roger Sinha and a creative class by Mamata Shankar. I went out to the
city and quickly gulped down the yummy golgappas with my colleague and
few other ‘Intensers.’ Some shopping, running around, beautiful heritage
sites, old buildings and the typical Bongla mishti shops are what
we have for a chilled out Kolkatan weekend.
I can’t believe
one week has passed and I am set for another grueling week of Intense dance.
We had a new tutor today - Bawren Tavaziva with African contemporary movements.
I almost died trying to get all those hip movements, rhythm, contemporary
and ballet movements in place… I am so exhausted that I can’t think
of anything other than a hot bath and some refreshing sleep.
Intense is physically demanding, mentally it is highly stimulating as well.
After doing some trimming job on Bawren’s choreography work, we have a
new entrant in our trainers’ list, Nirupama Rajendra. She takes a session
on Karanas and parts of Natyashastra that involves the Navarasas.
It is a beautiful extension to the knowledge that we have gathered so far
and I enjoyed it immensely.
We have last
3 days left and I can’t imagine how I managed so far. I am quite proud
that I have so many styles for use now. I am actually thinking of all the
fun time with the other Intensers through the last ten days – masala chai
breaks, gossiping together in our rooms, late night parties (strictly dance
only), choreography talks and just chatting about anything under the sun..
Sigh!! It was really good.
The last day
of dance sessions! In another two days, we shall put up our show, based
on our entire dancing experience from the Dance Intense. So we are geared
up for the rehearsals. Today’s highlight was that I traveled for 3 hours
to watch a dance performance by Pina Bausch’s company. It was worth all
the travel I must say. I was wondering if we could put up a show like this
with the limited access to dance extensions available here. For now, I
am thinking of my performance the day after.
an end to an exciting two week dance fiesta. Our performance was not bad
after all, like the way all of us had imagined. I can’t help feel a mixture
of feelings – happy that I am going home (to mom’s anna saaru and curd
rice), sad to leave all the others who have been so much part of my life
in the last few days, anxiety as to whether I’ll be able to contact them
after I am home…
I am thinking
much of those two women who have made this entire program happen – Piali
didi and Tanushree didi. Any thanks is just not enough to these two women
who have been with us through this program – helping us, hearing our woes
and of course those magical hugs…
But for now
all I can say is that I am content that I have finished yet another beautiful
phase of my career by being part of this wonderful venture where I lived,
loved and sustained dance.
Ballal is a member of Bangalore based contemporary dance company Nritarutya.
She participated in the 'Dance Intense' workshop organised by Sampad Asian
Arts, Burmingham, and Anand Shankar Institute, Kolkata, at the Vedic Village,
on the outskirts of Kolkata from Jan 6 - 19, 2008.