BANGALORE: One of the pioneers of American modern dance, Ted Shawn once said, “Dance communicates a man’s deepest, highest and most truly spiritual thoughts and emotions far better than words, spoken or written.” The passionate structure of this art form makes dancing an entirely liberating experience. After all, it is a conversation between the cosmic forces that bind both mind and body.
In India, dance has always had a rich heritage. The intricate patterns of Indian classical dance forms have enticed many for centuries. With spirituality, mythology and tradition smitten in its soul Bharatanatyam has often been considered as the dance of the flames.
So it comes as no surprise that danseuse Manisha Mehta has been fascinated with this particular dance form all her life. City Express talks to the artiste who was in town for Dance Kala 2012 to find out more about her future projects and passion for dance.
Tell us about yourself. When did your tryst with dance begin?
I was an extremely spirited and active child. I was fascinated with dance. I remember spending a lot of time dancing on some of my favourite songs as a child. Soon, my parents realised my potential and the passion I had for dance and enrolled me into formal coaching at the age of five. I grew up in Mauritius and it is there that I started learning ballet followed by an extensive training in Bharatanatyam
I used to visit India every year and on each visit I would learn a new form of folk dance. As a child, I would love to perform for an audience. I am a chartered accountant by qualification but dance has always been my passion. I manage a dance academy (Dance Kala Academy) as well as a software company.
Introducing elements of Western classical dance form into Indian dance forms has gained rapid popularity over the years. Your thoughts on the same?
Dance is an evolving art form. There is no rigid framework for the same. With the confluence of Indo-western music, dance has also merged
the two unique styles to create something surreal. Classical ballet and ballroom dances have all gained popularity in recent times.
How has Indian classical dance evolved over the years?
Classical dance has always been the high point of our culture and heritage. The main progress has been with the people’s mindset since they are more receptive and appreciative of the nuances of classical dance forms today.
Tell us about Dance Kala 2012.
Dance Kala 2012 is our annual stage show which features performances by students. It is in some way a culmination of the efforts put in by me and my students.
This year it was an Indo-Western Dance festival that witnessed the blending of Indian classical and Western dance styles. There was also a specially choreographed dance piece with an important message, ‘protection of the environment and go green’.
Do you think Indian classical dance forms are deeply rooted to spirituality and tradition? Yes. Indian classical dance form is deeply rooted to ancient mythological stories and tradition. There is a lot of depiction of love and ‘Bhakti’ in our ancient dance forms. Traces of spirituality and eternal love are seen in ‘Ras -Garba’, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi dance forms.
Where does India stand today in terms of versatility and innovation in dance forms on a global platform?
India has a rich blend of dance forms right from classical to free form, Bollywood and folk. Today, urban centres in India are adopting international dance forms like ballet, salsa, jazz and hip-hop.
So, we have a good blend of Indian and international dance forms as far as versatility is concerned. Our Bollywood style of dancing is already a big hit across the world and I don’t think any other country can match up to the versatility in dance forms that India has.