My Bharatanatyam class performed a dance yesterday; to your left is a photo of me all decked out my costume. The show was lovely; it’s nice to see such talented dancers. I have a lot of work to catch up on, due the extra rehearsals and losing Sunday to the show, but here are some important things I learned:

– Plan at least an hour to get ready. The photo doesn’t show it, but I also had a fake hair braid down the back. Everything had to be pinned (hair pins or safety pins) or tied with string; if you look at my left arm, you can see the string on the arm pieces. There are a lot of components to that costume.

– Try to break in the costume. My costume was brand new, and I think that contributed to my fan (the piece on the middle) not spreading beautifully. The fan was very stiff, albeit beautiful. I noticed most people had silk fans, rather than the stiffer gold brocade. I think wearing it more will soften the fabric a bit.

-The rhinestone jewelry does look stunning on stage. Some of the dancers had especially sparkly jewelry and it shimmered and sparkled when they were barely doing anything. Beautiful!

-Get better cases for big jewelry. I had separated out some of the smaller pieces using plastic food containers, but I need something bigger for the belt and head piece. I think it would make finding pieces a lot easier when I need them.

All in all, I learned a lot from participating and am glad I finally had the opportunity to perform something I learned in classical Indian dance.

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At my Bharatanatyam class yesterday, our teacher mentioned that some dancers from another class would join as at the beginning of our dance. The reason was that, although there are 11 of us, we simply cannot fill one gigantic stage.

What intrigued me on this is that I’ve heard the same thing about Middle Eastern dance, that a performance should include many dancers and that few dancers can do solos that are captivating enough to “fill” the stage. If you’re sitting in the back part of a huge auditorium, I imagine it would be difficult to see someone executing most moves. I never considered that the same idea could conceivably be applied to classical Indian dance. The facial expressions, eye movements, even the visual of the footwork could easily be lost in a huge performance venue.

I wonder how much has been adapted to make the dance more dynamic on stage, what really went into going from a temple dance to a stage performance. I remember watching a documentary about this, in regards to Odissi, but I think the documentary was more about secular vs. religious, rather than a close up setting vs. a large stage.

Does anyone have any books, documentaries, papers, etc. on this one?

The details are updated.  It’ll be held in MIT Kresge Auditorium on October 10, 2010, 12 noon.

Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi will be performed. I’ve never been or performed in this particular show, but I hear very positive things. I’m going to be in it with my class.

Meiver is having her show on August 18th at 8:00 PM in the Cambridge Multicultural Center. The show will benefit an organization called Matahari that works against the exploitation of people.

Triveni Dance school is holding their student concert on October 10th. It’ll feature Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, and Odissi. Details TBA

I’ll be in both 🙂

I’ve always been at a weird spot with dance. I don’t lie about it being a part of my life, but I also don’t share it. The reasons are simply people are judgmental and often will say offensive/ignorant things that indicate that they aren’t willing to learn about the styles I dance.

Because everyone is on Facebook nowadays and it’s slowly becoming the best way to be in the know, my personal Facebook profile is containing more and more information on my dance life. I don’t know how in depth people read Facebook profiles on my list, but the whole thing has me thinking on a grander scale. Rather than be vague about how I spend my non-work time, I decided that I will share what I do. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Classical Indian dance and Middle Eastern dance are 100% family friendly. The Middle Eastern dance community often talks about how we have nothing to be ashamed of and how it makes no sense that people perceive the dance as family-unfriendly. I feel like by not letting friends and close acquaintances know about a huge part of my life, I am behaving like I have something to hide when I do not.

In terms of jobs and my non-dance/personal life, I’ll still handle things in a more discreet way. I tend not to share most of my life at work anyway, so I don’t feel that my behavior is contradictory there.

Dance stuff that’s going on around the area in the upcoming months.

  • Ranya workshop. I am attending this event in RI on the 27th of February. To tell you the truth, I know very little about Ranya, except my friends have raved about her. She has a very well-reputed Beledi DVD and is supposed to be fantastic as both a dancer and instructor.
  • Hafli for Haiti. I’m dancing in this. It is a fundraiser for Haiti relief. It’s being held on 28 February at the VFW (371 Summer Street, Somerville, MA). Suggested donation is $15. For further information, please contact Badriya  (badriya at rcn.com).
  • “Ardhanareshwar Shiva Shakti”. Triveni Dance school is putting on a concert on April 18th. The information is here. Although I don’t have specific details, I believe the concert will consist of Odissi, Bharatanatyam, and Kuchipudi.

Are there any other ethnic dance events in the Boston-area that I’m missing that you’d like to share?

I’ve started taking Bharatanatyam again, a classical Indian dance. I’ve had on and off experience with Bharatanatyam starting in 2005. I switched to Odissi after a summer of Bhartanatyam. I studied Odissi for 2 years. Once I went to Chicago, I couldn’t find an Odissi teacher, which was remarkable to me; Chicago has a huge Indian population and even has a neighborhood/street filled with Indian businesses. I took the occasional Bharatanatyam lesson from Danielle, but I eventually stopped that (she didn’t think we had the room to really go where we should with dancing). Now that I’m more settled, I came back into Indian dance.

Why did I go to Bharatanatyam? Time suitability. I love Odissi and will probably end up studying it again someday, but for now, I’m happy learning Bharatanatyam. They are both beautiful dance forms. I’m lucky that muscle memory still exists and that the constant drilling of my past instructors has stuck with me. I’m not perfect, but it’s nice to see that I was trained well. I know people fear that switching teachers. There is the whole being in a new environment and just wondering if you are really in the right class. With Middle Eastern dance, there were quite a few holes in my education from not sticking with one teacher, since there are different standards of what constitutes an “intermediate” or who is really “professional-level.”One of the things I always liked about Indian dance is that it has been codified. Things are named. There are different schools/gurus that vary, but I had assumed there were things that were quite standard across the board.

On Friday, I learned that isn’t so much the case. I went back to a very beginner class of Bharatanatyam, because I thought I should learn from the ground up and regain the strength, etc. We go over the mudras (hand gestures) every week; the teacher gives us about 5 new ones to memorize. For the past two weeks, I have been perplexed, because the mudras are  named slightly differently than the names I was given from my other teachers; I always assumed mudra names were fairly standard, since I had heard the same set of names/been given the same charts from three others who do not know each other and from two different classical Indian dance styles. For instance, I memorized 2 forms of “kartarimukha” and pronounce it as “kar-tar-ee-mook-a.” My current class has only one form and we pronounce it “kar-tar-ee-mook.” It isn’t a different mudra, since it’s one of the 2 I know. I finally asked on Friday about this; I didn’t want to be “that student” who thinks s/he knows more than the teacher or assumes one of the teachers is wrong. I was curious, if it was a regional difference of pronunciation. It turns out that the texts are very vague about things and that while there are commonalities, it isn’t so cut and dry as I had originally assumed. I wasn’t taught incorrectly, just differently.

Unfortunately, all that great memorization of mudras that I retained will have to change in accordance to my current teacher. As I’ve said in the past, unlearning something is harder than learning it the first time.