Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kathak, My New Love

My lovely dance instructor invited me and another good friend (also a lover of all things Indian) to perform Kathak at a stylish wedding of two Bohemian artists in New York City several weeks ago. Hmmm...being Indian for a day?...let me think about that one...umm...YES, I'll do it!!

It was such a fantastic experience and a night I will remember forever. My dear friends that I danced with are two of the most special and beautiful souls I know. They are the type of women who inspire and uplift with their warm presence and spiritual energy. Time stands still when I'm with them. I felt like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight when the evening ended.


And....the special evening was just one more excellent excuse to wear my bangles, anklets and bindi!

My interest in Kathak began when my husband and I were in India in December last year. I had been dancing "Bollywood" for a while and looking for something more traditional and spiritual. In Delhi, we stayed with Mahesh's very good friend, Sanjay and his gracious wife, Priya. Their lovely 12 year old daughter, Saraswati, practices Kathak and put on a wonderful performance for us during our stay. Her dance instructor sang bols (rhythmic words) and played his tabla to direct her dance. He comes to their home each week for Saraswati's practice. Her mastery at spinning made me dizzy. I could only hope to become that good.

Also, while staying at Udaipur's Lake Palace (see previous post Sweet Lap of Luxury), I was entranced by the Kathak performer. She danced with so much soul and mesmerized the entire audience, especially the men! I am learning the power of abhinaya which is body language and expression without speech.

Kathak (which translates: to tell a story) is an ancient art originating in the 13th century in Hindu temples. I enjoy learning about Hinduism through the spirit of the dance which is embedded with the elegant poses resembling the many manifestations of God, including Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Ganesh. One of my favorite poses is Shiva, which is why I now have this nagging hip pain :).

My dance instructor gracefully teaches about abhinaya (expression), mudras (divine hand gestures) and fast rhythmic foot work. Above all, she teaches by example that dance comes from within the spirit and needs to be felt from the soul.
I am so looking forward to our next performance...



Chandan said...

You look gorgeous in the outfit!... `Nothing matches the grace and poise a few years of training in any classical dance form gives you. What you learn stays in your demeanour for life', tha's what my dance teacher used to say.

Shireena said...

Thanks, Chandan! You dance too!? I love it so much. My dance teacher has been dancing since she could walk and you're so right - the grace she holds is unmatchable. Even when she is speaking, her body is dancing from the top of her head to her hand gestures.

shuma.rani said...

Hi Shireena, Thanks for visiting my blog and I've had a read of your blog and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Looking forward too reading more of your posts and seeing your photos too.

Take care,
shuma.rani :))

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

Wow, stunning !
I'd love to learn too - no chance of that here where I live though, there's no such thing as an Indian dance group.
Love your blog :)

Shireena said...

Hi Shuma,
Thanks for your lovely comments! Glad you enjoy... :)

Hi Here, there, elsewhere...
Thanks for visiting and your sweet compliments. I'm heading over to your blog now!

Take care,

paris parfait said...

What a gorgeous form of dance and wonderful photos - and a history lesson to boot! Merci!

Divya said...

Started following your blog yesterday and getting seriously addicted to it. Your love for India is amazing.. wonder how many of us Indians love the country as much as you do!
I started learning Bharatnatyam at the age of 30.. so I can understand your passion for Indian classical dance. Nothing to beat the grace, right?