28 May 2008

Living for dance

There’s a magical place just outside Bangalore dedicated to Indian classical dance.

“I wanted to set up a place where anyone with a passion for dance could come and stay and train, not having to worry about finances or anything else, and devote themselves one hundred per cent to dance. The students would live on the campus learning all the major classical dance styles from the best gurus.”

This was Protima Bedi’s dream, which she realized by setting up Nrityagram – the dance village – in 1991. Her vision was to run the school as a gurukul, a place where students and teachers would live together in a community setting. Instead of paying fees, students would take care of the school’s daily household chores. Today the founder is no more, and there are only a handful of students studying only one classical dance style – Odissi. But Protima’s spirit lives on.

I’d been meaning to visit Nrityagram for a long time but whenever I planned a visit, the school was always invariably closed because the dancers were away on tour. The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble is known for it’s excellence and the group performs all over the world. Fortunately I had the chance to see them perform at the Chennai December Season.

I finally caught up with them on their return from their recent US tour. The dancers were busy rehearsing for an upcoming tour of Malaysia and a performance in Bangalore. Watching them rehearse in the specially-built dance hall filled with morning sunshine and a cool breeze coming in through the windows, I was struck by the dancers’ inner silence and concentration. One of the dancers would suddenly stop, think about her last movement, adjust it, and then ask the others what they thought of the adjustment. The perfection of their dance comes from their meticulous attention to detail.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble’s excellence is also a result of the dancers’ passion and absolute commitment to dance. You have to be passionate and committed to live in a small community in a rural setting where all you do is eat, sleep and dance.

This is a place where dancers live to dance!


Tracy said...

awesome!! such a beautiful place too~

GMG said...

Hi Isabel! Sorry for the speedy visit! I’ve been busy the whole last week and will be out in the next, so this is far less than your blog deserves… ;(( But I promise I’ll come back with more time after June 10th, at least…
Anyhow, some of the dance pics are awesome!
To avoid leaving you deserted, I published a last post on Marrakesh 2006 at Blogtrotter. Enjoy!

Sherri said...

Nice post! I recently attended a lecture here in New York about this enchanting dance village. The speaker had spent some time in Nrityagram. She studies all forms of Indian dance and is very talented. She also showed pictures and video of young boys doing quite amazing things including some contortionistic moves that blew me away. It is my dream to go for a visit someday! I'm so happy you got to visit such a place where all they do is eat, sleep and dance.
Take care,