Workshops….What are they ? Did I miss one? Relax!!
Did you know ? Our owner Mrs. Hetal Nagaraj’s first workshop was for Kathak in 1999. Her craze about one of movie star Mrs. Madhuri Dixit Nene made her try a Kathak crash course and friends’ influence got her enrolled for both Gharaanas that were famous in her cities/region. One of which was very much taken by her own folk guru’s daughter (Kathak Dancer & Teacher) and other was from outside student at school. 40+ hours of those grilling experience changed the way she thought about kathak.
What are Workshops ? It was not called workshop back then but was called crash course or introductory course! No such word of workshop existed back then in field of performing arts and everything was always offered in full package. The concept of crash course in classical dance or folk dance was next to impossible back then with such a vast subject to cover. But something for those interested in experimenting with dance form or style was needed before the big commitment! Thus, crash courses were offered and meant for advance dancers from other dance forms to experience the new art-form and see if it is something for them to pursue if they would like to pursue in-depth. Obviously after 40+ hours of that workshop, no further trainings in Kathak ever happened for our Mrs. Nagaraj, as she had enough on her plate. Plans were to be made for those classes if she would choose to take those up. With a scholarship to maintain, full time bachelors degree in hand, I.T. Diploma test cleared and ramping up, a full time job in sales, yearly college dance competitions, and CAT(IIM-India) prep classes to be taken well in advance for masters, adding kathak classes was just next to impossible.
Thus, Ms. Hetal Nagaraj encourages all her students to experience the workshops to see if that dance form or dance style (a defined style) will spark the creativity. Otherwise, a proper/mainstream Bharatanatyam Student will not need any Bharatanatyam Workshop other than a good reason that it may invoke creativity and introduce students to varied styles. Likewise for other dance forms as well. Having a master choreographer/artist’s name on your profile is a big plus if you are already a trained dancer. After all, who does not want a new choreography. Having an extra Thillana, Varnam or any other invocation piece from a master artist never harmed anybody. Likewise for any dance form or an independent style, not only Bharatanatyam. It is sometimes a beautiful experience to take these workshops and get the in-sights. You will see Hetal’s students always taking workshops from noted artists with exceptional background in defined styles or forms to get them introduced to sort of like a run through!
But a big question, can this run through or summary course ever teach you anything ? Yes and No depending on length, topic, choreography or technique focused in workshop. Biggest factor is age group and level of dancer. For classical dance workshops, you will never learn anything per se in those workshops; if you have never danced in that form. You will master the choreography and not the techniques. It is for advance dancers(who are already well-trained) to gain additional experience & knowledge other than their gurus so that they can think of possibilities in and out of style within form.
Indian Folk Dances will go by time and technique along with level of dancer. You will only be able to learn festival folk dances in 3-4 hours and well, do it anyways as it is not about techniques there. But, did you know that festival or community folk dances are entirely different than stage folk dances/often called pure folk dances. These cannot be learned in 3-4 hours because of techniques involved. It would be totally hard to say if anybody would learn something substantial enough to teach unless they have learned likewise from their teacher in exact manner to deliver it in that standard set of time. You will teach pretty much how/what you learned, you will reinforce the techniques, just the way you learned. How much wrong can you go in that :).
Bollywood and Movie Dances are whole new story…There is defined name for it but no form or style to it. The dances that emerged out of nowhere but movies! Funny but true that more than half of world stopped including songs in their movies and our industry still has more than 100 coming out every year. Back before 60s, classical dances were the trend but finding a classical dancer became challenge. It got more challenging when costume wearing guidelines were to be broken for entertainment purpose. Then entered the folk dances with plenty of entertainment and now everything is in the name of entertainment and folk-dance elements got lost in movies :). It started with formal couple dances to casual couple dances incorporating different mixed-up styles of salsa and latin influence and then was the disco trend and hiphop that started off to new generations. NOW, we do not know anymore what these dances are in our movies….!
Rules are meant to be broken only in the field of entertainment :). The best part of Bollywood/Tollywood dances according to our own elites is you can never possibly go wrong in those. Our elites enjoy doing Bollywood/Tollywood/Kollywood dances at a short-notice of competitions if they get selected for next round in open categories. This also replies to you on how we pick workshops for our elites, performing students and teams:).
College Level Competitions : It has been an honor for Ms. Hetal Nagaraj to have judged lot of college level competitions in USA. Even back when she started off in 1999 as part of pre-competition judging panel, her freelance career in performing arts kicked-up a notch in her field to be an exclusive focused to competitions. Every single thing mattered in those. Costumes, makeup, choreography, techniques(most important), presentation, acrobats, & lot of other things that do not seem to end the list.
Outlining Candidates in USA : So for her, outlining a certain candidate based on any USA dance team name is like a piece of cake that she wouldn’t need to slice. She enjoys all that fun and energy in all her dances and so even our Bollywood/Indian Movie Dance program has certain structured format to prepare our next generations towards it. Fun when combined with all the positive role-model from their teacher doubles the benefit. As these kids grow, nothing is going to be easy anymore, nothing will look cute after certain age anymore and that very much includes dance! It just gets more challenging & always asking for more creativity especially in Bolly/Tollywood where nothing is defined and this is what keeps our eye awake.
This is exactly why we have been winning non-stop first 3 positions in dance competitions even in Bollywood/open categories from 2013 when we started Indian Movie Dance Program. All of this comes from our own trainings and sets each of our dances apart without any resemblances in youtube channels or pretty much anywhere :). Our recordings tells the story of dates it was recorded very first time in class :). Legacy of everything is just passed by a teacher to a student who will someday be a teacher, if he/she wishes to do so and refines to next level, if he/she wishes to do so! We take that as our blessings. Cracking a code otherwise in a bharatanatyam or indian folk dances competition has been a norm from more than 2 decades now.
So, relax and take all the workshops that you can afford to take. Open up those artistic senses!
How to select a dance workshop ? Make sure you check the background of the master instructor and what exactly they are covering in that workshop. How many hours of workshop is it going to be. Ask for dance-clips of artist, ask for details of person or dance team or choreographer if you have never heard of them. After that you go for it. Always seek the choreography clips or videos that may help you for your own dances as well.
At the end it will boil down to only one thing, what’s was the value of this and what did you learn from these few hours with that artist ??
Best part of sharing our secrets is..To know what is right, you will need training :).
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