#MumbaiList: Learn Indian Classical Dance Styles

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Uma Dogra, Kathak Dancer
Uma Dogra, Kathak Dancer
Uma Dogra, Kathak Dancer

Most would have watched So You Think You Can Dance or Dance India Dance with great commitment and thanks to the media can very well tell the difference between Hip Hop and Jazz. But how many can tell difference between Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam? How many of us have even heard of Mohini Attam?

It’s time we pay a little attention, before we completely lose touch with the great tradition we have inherited. Here in Mumbai, in the middle of a city the lives and breathes Bollywood, dwell some highly skilled and renowned Classical dancers, who devote their lives to India’s traditional art forms. Here’s a look at just a few of the styles and practitioners.

Kathak: The Mesmerizing Storytellers of North India
Let’s start with Kathak, a north Indian dance form which originated in the Mughal courts of Delhi and Agra as well as the Hindu courts of Rajasthan. Kathak comes from the word ‘katha‘which means ‘story’; and as the name suggests Kathak is a highly stylized, technically profound way of telling a story. Guru Uma Dogra, a student of the renowned Pandit Durga Lalji started teaching the form when she moved from Delhi to Mumbai. She now devotes her time to moulding young dancers, many of whom go on to be respected performers. She conducts Kathak classes in Goregaon (West) and Juhu.

Rajashree Shirke (courtesy Lasya.net.in)
Rajashree Shirke (courtesy Lasya.net.in)

Bharat Natyam: Telling Stories Through Dance
Rajashree Shrike is the founder of Lasya, a dance school and trust that grooms dancer in Kathak, as well as Bharatnatyam. She has studied Kathak from the legendary Birju Maharaj. Lasya has tied up with S.N.D.T. College to conduct a three Diploma programme in Dance.

Odissi: The Moving Sculptures Of Orissa
The history of Odissi dance style is reflected in temple architecture which depicts feminine bodies, in graceful alluring postures. Odissi dancers look like moving sculptures. The dance style can be distinguished by subtle independent movements of the head, chest and pelvis.

Jhelum Paranjpe is one of the most well-known Odissi dancers and teachers in not just Mumbai, but the country. She runs a dance school called Smitalay, which was founded in association with close friend and fellow dancer, Smita Patil. The dance school has its headquarters in Santacruz (West).

Jhelum Paranjpe, Odissi Dancer
Jhelum Paranjpe, Odissi Dancer

Mohini Attam: The Enchantress In White
Mandakini Trivedi, is a passionate exponent of Mohini Attam and heads a school called Nateshvari. She studied dance at Nalanda Dance School in Mumbai, under Guru Kanak Rele. After teaching for several years at Nalanda she now works independently.

Kathakali: Drama In Dance
Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalay, is one of the Nation’s most renowned dance colleges. The college offers courses in Kathak, Kathakali, Bharatnatyam and Mohini Attam. There are several part-time, full-time and evening classes to choose from. The college is headed by Dr.Kanak Rele, who is a Mohini Attam and Kathakali Dancer. Kathakali was traditionally practiced only by men, even female parts were played by men dressed in female garb. But Rele broke all stereotypes and received acclaim for her rendition of Kathakali.

India officially has eight classical dance styles: Kathak, Odissi, Sattriya, Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, Mohini Attam, Kathakali and Manipuri. Each is unique and vast, yet every one faces a threat of extinction if not held onto and watered down. Let’s try to ensure the live on. Tell us about other renowned places in Mumbai that you may know of where one can learn more about these dance forms or other traditional dance forms of India.

Post By Salonee Gadgil (86 Posts)

I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.

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Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.