Friday, August 6, 2010

Kalamandir's Prithibi

Two weeks ago, despite the scorching 100 degrees weather, I dressed up in my new Indian Salwar to go see my old dance group perform their first full length dance production at George St. Playhouse located in New Brunswick, NJ. It had been 2 years since I left dance for college, and it was incredible to see how far and fast Kalamandir Dance Company has progressed! 

Dancing Kathak was the highlight of every sunday throughout my years of high school. Although I joined very late and had very little experience, Malabika Aunty really encouraged and challenged me to catch up with the rest of the girls in my age group. For the first time I got an education in Kathak, which was a new experience for me since my past teachers had focused more on popular performances. I acquired a taste for fusing contemporary music with classical dancing and I remember one of my favorite performances was the summer after my high school graduation when we drove to Toronto for a performance. The road trip was beyond hilarious and the girls (Brinda, Shilpa, Neha and I) got really close, although we were uncertain when all of us would be together again.

Thus, college came and I went to Pittsburgh and I was caught up with my life and I put my ghungroos on hold. I told myself I had to "Prioritize" and that school came first. But I knew secretly I missed the presence of the stage, the long hours of classes, and sneaking breaks to eat Quiznos. I read every Kalamandir newsletter avidly and watched all the photos and videos Brinda would post on facebook and youtube. I knew I was making excuses and that i needed to visit my dance team. Thus when I got the invite to the show I knew if I kept on making excuses I would miss out on keeping that passion for dancing alive in me. 

As I sat in the audience, it was strange to watch Kalamandir perform "Prithibi" or Earth. I thought to myself "Have I become an outsider?". But before I could answer myself, my old friend Karishma entered the auditorium and sat down next to me. Right then I realized what set Kalamandir apart from the rest of the dance teams was its students' true love for dancing. Much like myself, Karishma had also been M.I.A. from dancing for a while. However, to see so many of her students returning and supporting her, I knew Malabika Aunty was a teacher who had touched all of our hearts and we could never forget that love we had for our group and for dance. 

Soon the younger group entered the stage and I couldn't believe how beautiful and graceful they had all become! I almost laughed out loud as I remembered how small these girls used to be and now they were spinning and stepping in beat as if it was almost second nature! Then came the flagship group of Kalamandir with their first full production of Tagore's poem Prithibi translated by William Radice. The fusion dance incorporated classical moves, capoeira, ballet and much more! The dances interpreted the different stages of earth as well as a portrayal of human nature and emotions. I especially enjoyed the videos in the background which paralleled the poem and the performance. 

After the performance, I hurried backstage to congratulate Brinda and the others! Interestingly as I was gushing out compliments, I remembered how Malabika Aunty told me that the performance "will make me want to dance again" and oddly she is not far from truth. I do hope to make time and return to dance one day and I am sure Kalamandir will continue keep the passion for dance alive for a long time. 

*All pictures are credited to Kalamandirdanceco
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