Friday, July 22, 2011

Ta Ka Di Mi: Exploring South Asian Dance, August 13-14, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, NYC

India has over eight classical dance styles and hundreds of folk styles which have made an impact on the world of dance. This two-day intensive presented by the Ailey Extension, The Anamika-Navatman Project, and The Sa Dance Company, will engage the dancer in a myriad of movements ranging from the rich techniques of Indian classical styles to the festive and energetic nature of folk and Bollywood. The intensive will include eight introductory level classes taught by master teachers from around the world such as Maya Kulkarni, Sridhar Shanmugam, Uttara Coorlawala, Pooja Narang, Sarina Jain, Malini Srinivasan, Pratibha Vuppuluri and me. Students will gain insight into the beauties and intricacies of South Asian dance and music through instructors who have shown to be inspirational teachers within their field.

Register soon for the full workshop, or classes of your choice, at the Alvin Ailey webpage

Here's the schedule for the two days:

Day 1: Saturday, August 13

10:00 am - 11:30 am - Rhythmic Instrumental Class with Murali Balachandran
Active participation with the drums (such as mridangam, kanjira, etc) allow the dancer to learn the fundamentals of the rhythms of Indian dance. The teacher will go over what kannokol (spoken syllables used to create rhythms) means and also explain how it can be played on the instrument, cumulating in an understanding of how the spoken word is used to create complicated rhythmic patterns of pure dance.
11:45 am - 1:15 pm - Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Odissi with Malini Srinivasan, Pratibha Vuppuluri, and Priyadarshini Roy
These three styles exemplify some of the basic elements found in the greater percentage of Indian classical dance forms: a concentration on geometric lines, a half sit (in a pliƩ style) and the strong use of mudras (hand gestures). Each style has its own beauty in the way they approach these elements, especially through its utilization of the torso, allowing students to begin to understand stylistic differences and similarities.
1:15 pm - 1:30 pm - Lunch Break
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm - Free-style Folk Garba, Raas and Bhangra with Payal Kadakia and Sarina Jain
India is a land of diverse cultures, languages, and even movement.. Every region of the country has a unique culture, of which there is a popular style of folk dance derived from the essence of their traditions. For example, bhangra, a Punjabi folk dance, was derived from farmers celebrating the coming of the harvest, and the movements within base themselves on how the villagers farmed their lands. Half of this class will be devoted to Garba & Raas, two popular forms of Gujrati folk dance always found at the Indian festival of Navaratri; and bhangra, which has made its way from the fields to dance halls and clubs. This class is perfect for those intending to learn the basics to take to your next Indian-themed dance event or this upcoming season of Navratri!
3:15 pm - 4:45pm - Contemporary Blend with Uttara Coorlawala
Inspired about 80 years ago, this is a course that allows you to explore ways to blend the grounded nature of Indian dance with the light airiness of modern styles. There are several ways to approach this combination of movements, and several more questions that arise about the meaning and purpose while doing so. The teacher will attempt to address as much about this new and emerging field as possible through her own vast experiences and what she has come across in the past 50 years.
Day 2: Sunday, August 14
10:00 am - 11:30 am - Kalari Payattu with Sridhar Shanmugam
This dance is a martial arts dance form from Kerala, and is one of the oldest fighting systems in existence. Much like the arts of fencing, capoeira, or Jiu-Jitsu, it involves preset forms of strikes, kicks, grappling, weaponry, and even healing methods. It is even recognized by some as the precursor to martial arts in the East.
11:45 am - 1:15 pm - Kathak with Parul Shah
This North Indian style of dance is signified by multiple spins, fast foot work, a standing stance and graceful movement of the arms and elbows. Kathak as we know it now is a mixture of Indian and Mughal influences from the 16th century, which is why it is one of the only classical dances that has a standing stance. Originally danced in king’s courts, it slowly made its way North where it became the precursor to flamenco.
1:15 pm - 1:45 pm - Lunch Break
1:45 pm - 3:15 pm - Abhinaya with Maya Kulkarni (Chadda)
An important component of all Indian dances is the facial expression and the storytelling component. In this class, the teacher will teach students how one goes about formulating stories with the use of their hands and the nine rasas (basic moods). She will also give a small introduction to rasa theory (the reason d'etre for Indian dance) and how to "involve" oneself in a dance and fully become a character (useful for any kind of performance style).
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm - Bollywood with Pooja Narang
This dance sensation has hit the US full force, with its open parameters of movement. Bollywood dance is the dance-form used in Indian films. It is a mixture of numerous styles including belly-dancing, Kathak, Indian folk, Western pop, Modern, Jazz, and Hip-hop. It is a fun, fast-paced entertaining dance form.
Finally, here's a video of an Indian-inspired piece by Robert Battle, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. 

The complex, tightly woven rhythms of Indian dance are deconstructed and abstracted in this percussive, fast-paced work by choreographer Robert Battle. Clear shapes and propulsive jumps mimic the vocalized rhythmic syllables of Sheila Chandra's jazzy score.

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