Comparing dance forms: Kathak and Flamenco

Although Kathak and Flamenco both originate from different countries—India and Spain, respectively—some commonly shared features can be observed in both dance forms. Some techniques and body movements, such as hands, arms, feet, whole body movements, turns and positions are similar. Some similarities at the structural level are also seen, such as footwork and full body movements.

Kathak dance form is a way of presenting positive spiritual feelings and is performed by Hindu devotees of North India. Whereas, Flamenco dance form is meant to portray human suffering or depression and is performed in southern Spain; it is most often performed by Andalusian Gypsy people. Both dance forms have the same motive—to promote their respective traditions. Kathak, in the older as well as in the contemporary era, is performed in Hindu temples as a form of worship. During old times Kathak was also performed in village courtyards. Similarly, Flamenco traditionally appeared in the courtyards of Gypsy families. Both Kathak and Flamenco dance forms are amalgamations of several cultures.

Later, Kathak moved to extravagant courts of the Mughal Nawab and Flamenco moved to the smoky rooms owned by non-Gypsies. By the 20th century, both Kathak and Flamenco dancers started giving theatre performances in front of large audiences. Though Flamenco is more popular than Kathak, both dance forms are internationally recognized.

The two common religious influences both dance forms share are Indian and Muslim. Both dance forms have similarly complex footwork. Costumes of both the dance forms are fascinating to the audience. The flare in both the dance forms is also similar.

“HAPPY DANCING”

Video assignment

My recent class assignment was to interview three people. I decided to interview three professors of UMASS Boston. The topic of interview, which i chose was “international students and their problems with English language.” I went to UMASS campus. After meeting twelve professors i ended up taking interview of three professors named John Hess (Senior English lecturer at UMASS), Eve Sorum (Professor of English literature at UMASS)  and Professor Joseph Torra (Writer, poet and teacher at UMASS). All of them had different opinions regarding the topic.

“I love having international students,” says professor Hess. He thinks that international students from China, Scotland, Europe and so on face tremendous cultural shock in United States. Whereas, problems related to international students writing or grammar are resolved by offering them a series of classes such as ESL (English as second language classes).

Further, professor Sorum says that it is a responsibility of university and its professors to help overcome problems of international students. She also thinks that they are deeply good in necessary things and intelligent in their own ways. “Intensive reading and writing classes should be given to international students for whom English is not their first language,” says professor Sorum.

In addition, professor Torra believes that it is necessary to open doors for international students at UMASS Boston or in any other university because it helps students and faculty to be a part of international culture. He also thinks that international students should not be judged on their lack of writing abilities or their pronunciations but the way of presenting their ideas.

For more information please watch the above video.

Costume’s play a vital role in enhancing dance performances.

Dance costumes are designed typically for enriching the performance. Costumes which are designed for a specific work helps representing the artistic work of the choreographer. When dance is presented with good body postures, lines, choreography, proper song selection and good costumes, attracts the audience. Costumes are designed according to the likely requirements of dance forms. Dance costumes are designed in a way that it helps dancers completing their movements without damaging the steps.

Materials used in designing dance clothes

It is very important to use light weight and stretchable fabric, because another type of material used may result in restriction of movements. Fabric such as, jersey, silk, chiffon, georgette and Lyrica are commonly used for designing the costumes because they don’t restrict the movements. Material such as silk is lightweight and thus it tends to flow easily around the body.

Colors used in designing dance clothes

Colors are usually in contrast with lighting, props and accessories used in dance. Costume colors are chosen in such a way that they enhance body lines and forms, and they complement a dancer. Darker colors are usually used in designing costumes as they make the dancer look slimmer, and brighter colors are avoided as they make the dancer look larger. Colors should always be chosen in a way that pleases audience’s eye.

Footwear’s used in performance

Every dance style requires a specific dance shoe and some are performed without wearing footwear. Footwear are used for balancing the costumes. Some footwear tends to blend with the costumes thus they are not noticed. The other reason of choosing the footwear with precession is to avoid injuries. Classical dancers performing Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi and so on avoid wearing footwear’s because of the traditional reasons. Whereas, contemporary dancers choose footwear’s according to their dance forms.

“happy dancing”

Interview of a dance expert

Last Monday, I had an email interview with a dance expert, Sanjukta Sinha. She was born in Lucknow, India. She started dancing at the age of 8. She has majored in English, History and Sociology. As she was born and brought up in Lucknow, the land of Kathak dancers, she started performing Kathak. “I fell in love with the dance form the moment I started performing it,” says Sinha. She says she only performs Kathak but adds, “It is good to master in one dance form, but I respect all the dance forms.” She learned Kathak from Kumudini Lakhia Ji (her Guru), which according to her, is her biggest achievement.

10257213_681648131883596_9129403300335121070_o

Sinha has done various shows internationally. She recently performed in Rome, Paris and Italy. A few months back she did a stage show in New York, which she says was very successful. She loves showcasing her talent and dedication for Kathak dance form. For her, dance is the most beautiful art form and it is the best way of expressing oneself. She also has dance classes in Ahmedabad named “Kadamb”, India, where she teaches Kathak. She also added, ”I want to dance till my last breath.”

10397152_819415618070065_1178664856834153274_o

Further, she wants to promote Kathak not only nationally, but internationally. “I want every generation to know what Kathak dance form is all about,” Sinha says.

1052930_524911210890623_313471170_o

The pictures used are copy righted by Madhu Vfx

Pictures seen in my blog are used after taking permission of the photographer.

It felt great interviewing Sinha. Though it was an email interview, it really inspired me.

Happy Dancing !

Dance education of India

 Dance education has always been a controversy for most families in India. Some believe that dance cannot be a career option, whereas some choose to become a dancer. Dance as a hobby or profession, was discouraged by most of the upper class and higher castes in India. In addition, some reputed families never allowed their female members of house to perform any dance form. On the other hand, if we look at cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, Vadodara, Indore, Chandigarh, and so on, there are families that support their children for opting dance as a career. Some of the children or youths who choose dance as their career, have expertise in classical dance forms such as, Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Manipuri, Kathak, Sattriya, and some of them are interested in contemporary dance forms such as, Hip-Hop, Latin dance forms, Indo-contemporary, B-boying, and so on.

Some of the famous classical dancers of India are Malika Sarabhai, Pandit Birjumaharaj, Rukmini Devi Arundale, Shovana Narayan, Sonal Mansingh, Uday Shankar and many more. Whereas, some famous dancers following contemporary dance forms are Remo Dsouza, Geeta Kapoor, Terrence Lewis, Shaimak Dawar, Rajiv rawal, and so on. Among these phenomenal dancers, some have their own dance institute such as Shaimak Dawar Institute of Performing Arts and Terence Lewis Acadamy of contemporary dance. The Terence Lewis academy (TLA) is an institute where they train and promote upcoming dancers and is situated in Mumbai and Shaimak Dawar has his academy in various cities other than Mumbai. Terence Lewis academy has special Diploma courses for students who are very keen about making their career in dance and moreover, they also conduct various workshops in different cities nationally and internationally.

Great dancers likeTerence Lewis, Geeta Kapoor and Remo Dsouza have also been judges of India’s first reality dance show, ”Dance India Dance”.

The dance education of India is improving since the past few years. More families are now supporting the dreams of their children to become dancers, as dance is emerging with different career options due to the improvement in dance education.

Michelle Johnson’s Lecture at Northeastern school of Journalism

FullSizeRender

Michelle Johnson teaches multimedia journalism at Boston University. She is a former editor for Boston Globe’s award-winning website Boston.com, a regional website. She was an editor for the Metro, National, Foreign and Business sections of the newspaper. She was also awarded a Knight Fellowship to study for a year at Stanford University in 1993 and the same year received an awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. This are some of her achievements among many more.

Johnson, lectured for the graduate students of Journalism, last night. She lectured on how to make effective news videos. She initially started with her introduction about what she does and how she does. Later, she asked about our field of interest. She was very excited to know that some students were interested in online newsroom, as it was her field of interest and expertise. She presented her work in the form of slide show. She started the presentation, describing which kind of equipment’s to be used for taking a video. She said that she prefers taking a video in natural light for better results. Further, she explained the advantages of using a cellphone

FullSizeRender

Advantages of using a cellphone for making a video: Immediate upload, live streaming

And explained how to use cellphone for shooting a video. She described how holding the phone horizontally, image stabilization, not zooming and filling the frame will improve the quality of video. In addition, she described that holding the phone vertically will affect the quality of video. She gave general shooting tips, which describes that varying shots that is shooting them with different focal lengths, getting the best audio, shooting different sequences, using a tripod, keeping quite during making of video and setting proper light such as white balance, are the key points of making a good video. She showed the demographical representation of different videos watched by the viewers and their rankings. People watching news videos were 90 percent of 18 to 29 years old, 80 percent of 30 to 49 years old, 49 percent of 50 to 64 years old, and 20 percent of those were 65 or older.

Later she showed her work for Boston.com. The work she showed was about a boy named Nicholas who was killed brutally. The video showed his family and the painful phase of life they were going through. It explained the real meaning of videography and editing, the video came across well and it was well composed. It had all the elements which Michelle described in her presentation.

Furthermore, we asked different questions to Michelle and she gave satisfactory answers to each one of those. The lecture was very interactive and it ended on a good note.

Thank you Michelle Johnson for sharing your experience with us.

Some important link’s for the beat

India: Music and dance website comprises all information about India’s music and dance culture. It narrates how Indian dance culture is diverse and it varies from different countries. It has information of different sections such as India travel Guide ,India attractions ,North India, West India, South India, East India, music culture and dance culture.

Cultural India is the second website which explains about Indian classical dances such as Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Odissiand so on. This website also gives information about various classical dancers such as Malika Sarabhai, Pandit Birjumaharaj, Rukmini Devi Arundale,Shovana Narayan, Sonal Mansingh, Uday Shankar and many more.

Culture center of India website narrates description of various dance styles of India . They also have videos clips showing dance styles and they also have a Facebook page, workshop details, photos , and contact information for the same .