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Bharatanatyam dancer Ranita Saha speaks on picking up Japanese traditional dance forms | Events Movie News

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Bengaluru is a melting pot of all things cosmopolitan and is known for embracing art and culture from different parts of the world. So, it’s not surprising that a city-based Japanese linguist and analyst, who is also a Bharatanatyam dancer, has picked up Japanese dance forms like Awa Odori (Tokushima traditional dance) and Nihon Buyo (17th century Japanese folk dance). Ranita Saha, who also goes by the name Ranita-san, performed for the third time at this year’s Japan Habba. She talks to us about her love for Japanese dance forms, cuisine and more…

Love for all things Japanese

Ranita tells us that it all started from her college days when she read manga (Japanese comics) and watched anime. “As a college student, I was interested in Japanese culture soon after I took up the language as one of my electives. The classes got me to research more on their traditional forms of dance, cuisine and history. Gradually, the love for the culture grew, and I moved to Nara, Japan for a year to pursue a diploma in Japanese and tried to imbibe as much as I could from their culture — from cooking Japanese food to interacting with the locals. Now, I can speak Japanese fluently and have picked up many of their cultural habits and recipes.”

From Bharatanatyam to Awa Odori
Ranita, who is also a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, learnt dance forms like Awa Odori and Nihon Buyo, through online videos. “I had watched videos of Geishas, Meikos and other Japanese dancers, and observed how they would use beautiful props like fans and umbrellas. Watching them move gracefully, in sync with the rhythm of songs, inspired me to take up these dance forms.” On performing Hyakunen Yakou this year, which is also known as the dance of the fox, Ranita says, “This is a Japanese dance based on how an individual turns into a fox. In Japan, foxes are considered magical creatures that can shape-shift. They are also considered deities. My performance includes traditional Japanese dance steps, as well as modern moves with props like the Japanese fan and umbrella. I danced to the song Hyakunen Yakou.”

Introducing Japanese culture to Bengalureans

Talking about her third performance at the festival, Ranita says, “My aim is to introduce as many people as I can to Japanese culture and help them develop the kind of love that I have for the country, its people and culture. Bengaluru’s audience is very receptive and people are open to new kinds of experiences. So, I hope this year too, they learn more about Japan’s culture through my performance and the festival. I also intend to start teaching these dance forms to youngsters in the city.”

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