CHENNAI: Dance couple Kokila Hariram and Gowtham Sundararajan are no strangers in the modern dance circuit in Chennai. The founders of the Academy of Modern Danse and their team will be participating in the 19th Asia Pacific Dance Competition this year in Malaysia. Participating for the fourth time in this competition, the team (25 students between 6 and 21 years) is taking part in 15 different categories like contemporary, jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop and more. It is being organised by CSTD Australia every year.
“We are one of the two schools that represent India for this competition. It starts on August 17. The competition has over 2,500 students participating from about eight countries,” says, Gowtham. “We concentrate mostly on the Western dance form not because we don’t like classical but because we don’t have places which offer diploma certificates for western dance form here.”
Started in 1998 with just four students, the academy has now students coming from all walks of life in and around the city. It is arguably the only dance school which is structured like a proper school. It has affiliations with CSTD Australia, UKA London and LA Dance Connection, USA. “The main challenge we faced is to withstand it as a school. Most of such institutions survive on choreographing shows. We don’t do it because it distracts us from the basic principle of teaching and training students,” explains Kokila.
“The teaching here is very structured. In most of the institutions, kids are allowed to go on ‘points’ at a very young age. It is in fact very risky and people are ignorant about it,” adds Gowtham.
One of the most interesting aspects of the academy is that whenever they go abroad for competition, it is the parents and the academy who fund the entire campaign since they don’t have any sponsors. “I don’t know how to approach sponsors. I like explaining things genuinely but sometimes that is not enough. So, if I don’t get funds, I don’t so that makes me an egoistic artist.” says Gowtham.
Here, the academics art conflict is actually dealt by students themselves. While Kokila agrees that sometimes parents are hard to convince, she also adds that they are very understanding and supportive of what their children want.“They like Koki better because she is better with the kids. I have a different way of teaching. In fact, we have that conflict when it comes the way of teaching,” laughs Gowtham.
Academy of Modern Danse won the Bettey Tilley Cup in 2010 Asia Pacific campaign in Singapore. They won it for overall performance. It was the first time an Indian school won in a category in an international arena.
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