HYDERABAD: Most of us have been trying to make this pandemic useful by learning something new, and many in the city seem to be turning to dance for this. Social media is flooded with short videos of people trying to show off their moves.
However, amid a lockdown which gives us only four hours in the morning to run errands, learning the art form in a physical space is not possible. So, lessons have gone online and believe it or not one can pick up any dance form -- be it classical, hip hop or contemporary -- just by ‘zooming in’.
Apooh Mahi and her team ‘AM2AM’, which includes Akhil Mohan and Jatiratnalu fame Faria Abdullah, have been performing hip hop, jazz, bollywood and other styles online. Their love for dance is evident in the videos they post online. Now, the trio plans to hold online lessons too. “It’s been three months since we started AM2AM. Even before the second wave could hit Hyderabad, we started performing and posting our videos online. Faria has been a great support throughout.
Now, we are moving on to taking online dance sessions on movement and choreography under the banner, ‘F(AM) Vol. 1’. Instagram has been an amazing platform for me to showcase my new choreography. I get approached by brands and companies. Opportunities to work with passion is everything one can ask for,” Aphoo says. Faria also has something to say about how happy she feels dancing with Apooh and Akhil. “I will be teaching choreography after a year. I am super excited. I love to dance as I can spread the joy that comes with it. Apooh and Akhil are like my crew, I love jamming with them and I am hoping to learn from them as well,”the actor says.
On the other hand, classical dancers have also been teaching online for quite some time now. Amy Kumar, a Kuchipudi artiste and founder of Prerana Pratibha, has been teaching the dance form for six years now at Our Sacred Space. Teaching online for a year is an entirely different experience for her. “I never thought of conducting online classes but considering the situation, which doesn’t seem to be getting better, we tried to experiment with a few online classes.
When we started off, it was very difficult for all of us. I have students from the age of five to 50, and especially for the younger ones to pay attention and understand, it took a while. They would stare at themselves during the online class. But as a classical dancer, we have instilled discipline in us by following our teachers and in that way my students were able to adapt pretty well to the new medium. Now, we are doing everything online,” she says.
However, the biggest problem according to her is that when she says ‘right’ they go left and vice versa. “But the biggest advantage of taking online classes is that we are constantly in touch all week, which was not the case with offline classes. We could meet only twice a week. I have a WhatsApp group where we post videos and my students have also performed online. We also give them homework and I correct them if they are going wrong.”
Nenita Parveen, a Bharatanatyam dancer and founder of Meenakshi Studio for Arts, has been taking online classes too. She went back to physical classes for a few days nut resumed the online format due to the second wave. “I have been taking online classes ever since the lockdown last year. I have two batches, one for adults and the other for children. My adult batch was online from last March to last November. Later, we shifted back to physical classes till March 2021 and now we are back online. For children, I have been taking online since last year. I have about 35 students now.”
Dr Rajeshwari Sainath, who has been performing and teaching the same dance form for the last 45 years, also shares her views about holding classes online. “This is truly a difficult time for the world but it has opened a different dimension for me as a teacher. As much as I was sceptical, I started teaching online before the pandemic to connect with my students abroad, only to realise that soon this would become a full-fledged teaching option.
Online teaching has become effective as I see students adapting to it and progressing well. Now, I can also see that a lot of women, who were apprehensive about dancing in a group in an offline class set up, are getting comfortable pursuing their passion virtually. This has only gone to prove that despite any crisis when things remain uncertain, Indian arts can be adapted and will survive,”she says.