Workshop at Pariniti Kalakendra
- Madhuri Upadhya

March 30, 2013
It was that time of the year for my getaway to teach dance outside Bangalore. My destination was to the classical dancers of Pariniti Kalakendra in Sagara. Gopal Sagar (Director) and Chinmayi (Dance critic) had been in conversation with me for a year and the dates finally materialized during our Republic Day. I arrived at Sagara early morning and the house I stayed in had a typical wooden steep stairway.  I enjoyed the hospitality of Swetha, Mr. Gopal’s wife, who is a gracious host, an excellent cook and also a pillar of strength to the institute and dancers.

The workshop started with me giving a talk to a keen bunch of 19 girls and a boy on what Indian contemporary dance is, innovations happening in the field, what is warm-up and the procedure of warming up. I went on to introduce them to techniques of basic floor work, release, point work, weight transfers etc. As the time was short, I had to also finish choreography which I immediately moved to the second part of the day. I also introduced them to concepts of deconstruction forcing them to think out of the box…

Off duty times are my favourite usually as it’s the time to bond with my students and also know a little more about their inclination to dance.  The girls turned out to be really spunky and took me on a roller coaster ride into the sugarcane fields, a luxury which I never get in Bangalore. I also enjoyed all their stories, one of which was how Rathan convinced everyone in school for a year that he is Hrithik Roshan’s brother. He even photoshopped pictures and wove imaginative stories to make everyone believe him.

On the second day, I forced all of them to let go, move to their internal rhythm and dance like monkeys. Of course moving on to more serious matters, I had to finish the choreography. I was surprised at the concentration and the ability of the students to learn a whole dance piece in a day. Kudos to them. As we wound up by 6pm, Mr. Gopal along with a couple of dancers rushed for a performance. The surprise package was when I went to watch the performance, they honoured me and introduced me as an internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer. Hardly! I think of myself more as a struggling, mad artiste with a crazy commitment to the field of dance. 

The efforts of Gopal Sagar and certain dedicated students like Sahana has shaped the performance team and institute beautifully. I had the privilege of watching some of their videos and was happy to see their experimentation in productions like ‘Saptatandava.’  It was then time to catch the night bus but not before I enjoyed Swetha’s tasty dinner and Gopal’s gifts of pickles and mixture, a speciality of Sagara. I left the city with a lot of hope for the future of dance and looking forward to reach out to dancers in another town next year. I don’t think of myself as a teacher but a medium to make people fall in love with dance.

Madhuri Upadhya is the artistic director of Bangalore based Indian contemporary dance company Nritarutya.