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Dance we dance
- Sharmila Basu Thakur
Photos courtesy: OVM

May 21, 2019

Classical dance requires rigorous training and practice. There are many dance institutions in Kolkata to teach the youngsters these beautiful art forms. But only few can enlighten the young minds through proper guidance and enthusiasm.

Odissi Vision and Movement Centre spearheaded by Sharmila Biswas, an eminent Odissi dancer, choreographer and researcher, is an institution where students can learn to love the art of dance along with the technical training. 'Dance We Dance' was their recent annual program at Gandhi Bhavan where the students showed whatever they had learnt throughout the year. It was nice to watch their spontaneous verve and vivacity.

After the music invocation, it began with Abahani inspired by the traditional concept of rangapuja. Dancers wearing simple plain white costume with green blouse created a divine ambience through choreographic patterns. Music by Sangeeta Gosain helped to enhance the mood of the presentation. Minimalism speaks a lot. It was followed by Ganesh Vandana. The use of hastamudras or hand gestures is one of the unique features of Indian classical dance. Mudras can also be presented in an imaginative manner. Asamyukta Hastamudra, the second number of the evening proved that. To stage the annual program of an institution, this sort of creative and intelligent compositions are required.

Next presentation was Sthiti, inspired by acrobatic dance of the Gotipua boys. Dancers proved their adequate learning but the entire item was too long. It could have been more crisp and compact. An untitled number by the junior section students of the institution did not deserve any evaluation. They have just started their aesthetic journey. Beautiful costumes and simple composition made it enjoyable. Along with the training and teaching, one should remember that every student of an institution does not want to become a dancer. Everyone does not have the same sort of passion and dedication. So to run an institution, one has to plan an interesting teaching module where authenticity and entertainment (not in the lighter sense of the term) can go hand in hand. Sharmila Biswas knows that art of planning very well. That is why programs of her institution OVM always remain different.

Chhandamalika was based on Tagore songs. To explore the beauty and complexity of various rhythms of Rabindrik, Odissi, Hindustani and Carnatic tala, this number was created. It was a brilliant presentation interspersed and interwoven by songs like ae tabe sahachari, kharo bayu boye begey, phuley phuley dholey dholey.

Dance is not only learning about technique and grammar. It should be the way of one's life. Sharmila tries to teach her students this mantra of life which is really encouraging.

Sharmila Basu Thakur is a journalist, trained classical dancer, dance critic, writer.