Dancing her way to distant shores

Bangalore based contemporary dancer Nayana Bhat has been dancing since she was 10. “I’ve always been a shy kid. I wouldn’t even speak to people properly when I was young. During my teen years, I used to shut myself in my mother’s room and play music and dance,” says Bhat. But dancing helped her overcome these inhibitions. “When dancing I feel liberated. I can express myself in ways impossible in normal circumstances.”

Now 24, Bhat has been invited to take part in the prestigious Summer Improvisation Course by Stichting Magpie Umbrella, Netherlands. Bhat will be representing India in this annual course, which offers seats to a mere 18 dancers from across the world. The course is scheduled between June 21 and August 21 in Amsterdam.

Bhat has dipped into both classical and contemporary dance forms. “I really enjoy Bharatanatyam and Kathak. I’ve had about three and a half years of training in ballet, too. I think the character of classical dance forms provides a foundation, but sometimes the rigid structure may confine you,” she says, adding that when she wants to break out of it, she delves into contemporary dance.

“Nowadays, the vocabulary of my dance comprises largely of contemporary moves,” she says. Bhat has always been one for following her dreams. “My parents have been very encouraging towards my interest in dance. But they were a little apprehensive when I wanted to pursue it as a career, as it doesn’t provide financial security,” she says.

Bhat worked as a journalist at a TV station earlier, but decided to quit as she found the job frustrating, leaving her with little or no time for her first love. She then joined a dance company, but it’s been just a year, since she took up dancing independently. “It was a big risk, because initially at least there’s very little money.It’s important to make yourself known,” she says.

When she was on the crossroads of her career, Bhat was low on confidence and even considered quitting dance. “That was when the acceptance came through making me carefully reassess my options. I understood then that I couldn’t really be happy if I didn’t dance,” she says. The acceptance catapulted her back into dancing again.

The improvisation summer course 2010 is designed so that artists can place their attention on the practice of improvisation within their dance or music studies or as a part of their professional work. World class teachers and dancers such as Katie Duck, Sylvain Meret, Makiko Ito, Sharon Smith, Augustin Bellucsi, Vincent Cacalano and Alan McDermott will be training the artistes through the course.

Participating in the workshop will help her arrive at an in-depth understanding of what’s happening in the Western dance scenario, feels Bhat. “I am familiar with some aspects, given that
I’ve already performed at various venues abroad, but I only have an outsider’s view of how things work there,” she says. “It’s extraordinarily difficult to crack into the artistic arena abroad, as its demands are superior to what we see in India. This is a great way to open up to new experiences and immerse myself in a culture, which is richer and more active with respect to all kinds of artistic forms,” says the young dancer.

Published in DNA, June 21st 2010

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