Asian Music and Dance

Summer School Post Scripts

Summer Schools are an added source of enrichment to students’ learning. Here Neesha Radia and Pranav Yagnik describe their experiences at two very different Courses, Unlocking Creativity 3 and Dance-India.

Unlocking Creativity 3

Unlocking Creativity 3, a four-day residential Choreography Course organised by Kadam, was a unique experience and it left me feeling cleansed, awakened and empowered. Held at the vast Mas Making Space at the newly-built UK Centre for Carnival Arts in Luton, the Course was led for the third year by dancer/choreographer Hari Krishnan joined by Rama Vaidyanathan, Eva Recacha and Gauri Sharma Tripathi.

Living up to its title, the Course unlocked a lot of content, substance and creative material from within myself that had been accumulating and hovering around for some time. I felt that over the four days, my ideas and creative urges were quite organically released.

I am not sure how we managed to cover so much! Movement and rhythm exercises to live music, informal and formal discussions, individual and group creative choreographies, performances, one-on-one mentoring. We played with the many layers and elements involved in the choreographic process: space, time, structure, the unveiling of theme and concept, audience expectations.

We were guided by our mentors to really get stuck into the work and become fully present with ourselves and with each other. There was a wonderful rhythmical practice built over the four days whereby we would engross ourselves in learning through lots of action, high-impact and challenging creative dance exercises and then have time to reflect on what we did after each segment; a chance to extract the insights, and gather our realisations as a group. 

By the end of the second day, we were asked to start thinking about our own choreographies: the concept that we wished to explore, the musician we would like to team up with and to select a mentor. This choreography would be performed to everybody on the final day.

For my choreography I chose to work with Arun Ghosh, exploring the sounds of the clarinet and my key dance mentor was Rama Vaidyanathan. I was also lucky to have had additional input from Gauri Sharma Tripathi and Bishaka Sarker. I wanted as my focus the links between yoga and kathak, my main areas of practice. I began exploring various avenues related to yogic science and after a day I found I had far too many ideas. I then went through a very intense process of selecting and simplifying. I also realised that the choreographic process is about using intuition, being bold and trusting one’s creative decisions. When it came to performing the choreography on the final day, I would say I found an inner conviction in the value and truth of the work. 

The result? I walked away having found a strong conviction in my ability to create meaningful work. I know I will continue to gain from and build upon what I have learned at UC 3 for a long time to come.

— Neesha Radia

Dance-India 2010

In August, Milapfest held its annual Dance-India summer school at The Lowry in Salford.With over a hundred attendees and the addition of kuchipudi (represented by Vijayanthi Kashi and her daughter Prateeksha), the school’s coverage was broader than ever. The line-up of teachers also included Kumudini Lakhia and Sanjukta Sinha, Nirupama & Rajendra (kathak), Madhavi and Arushi Mudgal (odissi), Leela Samson, Priyadarshini Govind, and Shijith Nambiar & Parvathy Menon (bharatanatyam).

A mix of technique and abhinaya classes, lectures and performances comprised the timetable. Each morning a different teacher led the warm-up, with flair and gusto. The dance classes occupied the greater proportion of the timetable.The quality of the teaching, whether from junior or senior gurus, need not be mentioned; nor their enthusiasm and commitment to the class: all these we take, gratefully, for granted.

The stand-out evening performances during the week were this year characterised by a maturity both in execution and in content: Priyadarshini Govind’s vivid and unforgettable abhinaya centred on two equally strong yet very different women and both she and Leela Samson handled adult concerns with admirable aplomb, while Madhavi Mudgal duetted with her niece Arushi on a phenomenal Shankarabharanam pallavi so gracefully co-ordinated.

 One of the most valuable things which Dance-India offers is the opportunity to engage and talk freely with a stellar cast of teachers and dancers, inside and outside of the classroom; because of this, because it takes place on British soil in the north and because it gives dancers of all levels from the United Kingdom to interact with each other and those from all over the world, the Manchester summer school is unique.It’s also addictive: those who attend for the first time are hooked; those who have been before return again and again. Bring on Dance-India 2011.

— Pranav Yagnik



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