Indian Classical

No lockdown fetters on these dancing feet- The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

MANGALURU: The Covid-19 pandemic brought the globe to a screeching halt, putting an uncertain full stop to the lives, livelihoods and interests of people.

But while the world outside looked deserted amid the ensuing lockdown, several artistes applied creative and ingenious ways to nurture their talent, and thus feed a semblance of beauty and meaning to help others stay connected with themselves.

On this very note, Rachana Amin, a Bharatanatyam dancer, arrived at a novel idea after the nationwide lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

She brought together a group of 61 classical dancers, who are all former students of Alva’s College in Moodbidri, Dakshina Kannada district, to curate a unique online Bharatanatyam series.

Titled ‘Nrityantine’, Rachana’s intention through this initiative was to spread positivity and cheer among people during this grim phase.

All the 61 artistes currently reside in different parts of Karnataka. And with the lockdown guidelines in place, the dancers managed to weave their acts together into a three-part Nrityantine, while still maintaining social distancing through solo performances at their own locations.

The term ‘Nrityantine’ is made up of two words – Nritya, meaning dance, and quarantine, a word far too familiar these days.

It all started on May 1. The first part, titled Maathey, saw 23 artistes performing Bharatanatyam across a 4.22-minute video, which was released on Rachana’s own YouTube channel.

“The short dance rendition gave out a strong message that art can survive during a pandemic and even when people are home-quarantined,” says Rachana.

A massive positive response followed, encouraging the group to produce the second part in the series titled, Tillana 2.0 with 22 dancers, which finally culminated in the third part, Sada Nannu, with 18 dancers. Each of the three videos lasts between four and five minutes.

Big Boss contestant and television actress Chandana Ananthkrishna, also a former student of Alva’s College, was in the dance series as well.

As a student at her college, Rachana was a major part of its classical dance team, and it was with this experience that she planned to reunite all the other dancers.

Explaining how Nrityantine was put together, Rachana shares: “I had to plan, execute and build the storyboard. If I ask everyone to choreograph for a full song, it takes a lot of effort and they could back out. Understanding the situation, I planned to divide the songs in bits of 10-12 seconds, lest anyone is burdened and would thus enjoy the process.

“Our series was surely a result of teamwork, but I kept it as an open choreography, where everyone did their own bit.”

The first video took 15 days to shoot and all artistes used their mobile phones to record their dance performances. The individual clips were compiled into a single final video by Maurya S Aravind.
After the pandemic struck, the dancers were forced to go on leave, and were seeking fruitful ways to sail through the lockdown.

“We had to adjust to a new reality and art definitely is a way that helps one cope with the dark times,” says Manasa Rai Kadaba, who was part of the first video.

Following the successful reach of her initiative, Rachana, along with all the other artistes, was appreciated by Alva’s Education Foundation Chairman Dr M Mohan Alva.

“American tennis legend Arthur Ashe Jr said, ‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can’, and in these hard times of the pandemic, I realised that we need not wait for opportunities to showcase our art. Instead, why not build one?” says Rachana.

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