Stories on stage through Indian classical dance with western shades

Students and gurus from two reputed dance schools ready to treat Mumbai kids to a showcase of Indian classical and Folk depicting stories of love, mythology, flora and fauna

Odissi dance performed to Old MacDonald Had A Farm? That's right. Tomorrow, two dance institutions that have helped keep traditional art forms alive, along with creating contemporary styles, will showcase their works at NCPA. While Jhelum Paranjpe's Smitalay will tell stories of birds and animals with the theme From Farm To Jungle, Dr Tushar Guha's Nrityanjali will showcase the theme Anurati (love), portraying stories of togetherness, love for the almighty, art and nature. Each group will perform for an hour.

From Farm to Jungle by Smitalay
From Farm to Jungle by Smitalay

Of birds and bees
"There's a bit of Odissi in the performance, which happens to be the base for my students. It's mainly creative dance, the Odissi bit is like the 'tel ka chaunk' that we use in cooking. You can call it seasoning," says Paranjpe. "NCPA asked if we could create something for children. So, we chose to have a performance by children too. All our performers are between seven and 14 years. I was keen to do something about animals and birds. The idea was to get inside the tiny brains and mighty hearts of our evolutionary ancestors and interpret universal emotions through their stories," she adds.

With over a dozen agile bodies moving to a choreography that's not restricted to any style, the performance will use live music comprising Folk songs and some new ones, by the legendary Pete Seeger and Mumbai-based Pop artiste Bunkim Paranjpe.

Jhelum  Paranjpe
Jhelum Paranjpe

"My son (Bunkim) was keen to do something with Western music. So, we chose music from Pete Seeger, a classic like Old MacDonald Had A Farm, which everyone knows. There are songs about a frog falling in love with a mouse, a mule being good at kicking and about seeing a tiger. The last one has been composed by Bunkim. Live music gives it a new approach. We have guitar, percussion, keyboard and vocals," informs Paranjpe.

There are 13 songs, three to five minutes long, performed by 19 dancers. Taking a step outside their comfort zone, the students of Smitalay will perform the new, fused style to English music. "50 per cent of my students are from the Marathi medium. They couldn't relate to English lyrics easily. They would connect to the rhythm and then, I would explain," she shares.

Mangala Gaur by Nrityanjali
Mangala Gaur by Nrityanjali

"Initially, there was a lot of inhibition, especially from younger girl students. When they saw me crawl on the floor and enact a cat pose, they looked at each other and wondered what was going on. It's new for me too. I haven't done a performance for children earlier," she adds,

In love with all
Nrityanjali, the brainchild of dancer, researcher, and corporate trainer Dr Tushar Guha, who uses the medium of dance for the holistic personality development of children, will present a vibrant medley of Classical dances, Kathak and Bharatnatyam along with a few Indian Folk forms. "We chose the theme, Anurati, as it allows us to showcase various forms of love including that for the almighty, along with nature, excitement at the arrival of the monsoon or the feeling of togetherness in community Folk performances, using different styles of dance," informs Guha.

The opening act will feature performances by three teachers of Nrityanjali, including Guha. The three-minute fusion performance will include Bharatnatyam, Kathak and creative dances, with 30 artistes on stage.

Dr Tushar Guha
Dr Tushar Guha

"Most performances are by our students, all between seven and 23 years. We will tell the story of Lord Bal Krishna and his makhan chori, especially for children, in the Shabdam style that focuses on the words," Guha says. "We will also perform the Mangala Gaur, a dance performed by married Mahara-shtrian women to celebrate their marital status, and Adivasi Kummi from Tamil Nadu, performed by men, women and children," he adds. Fifty-four dancers will grace the stage to perform the 55-minute act to recorded Bharatanatyam and Kathak music.

On: May 19, 7 pm to 9 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA NCPA Marg, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Call: 22824567
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