Indian students to dance at Artscape

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to Kumar K Sarveshan-2407 Willem Law Kumar Sarveshan of the Vadhini Indian Arts Academy was one of the dancers who entertained Capetonians on Thibault Square on the last day of this years Infecting the City public arts festival.

The Vadhini Indian Arts Academy celebrates 35 years this year with a big bash at Artscape on Saturday.

Entitled Jhoomkar (which means to dance), the showcase will draw on students and teachers at the academy, as well as their one professional male dancer, Kumar Sarveshan.

Vadhini Indian Arts Academy specialises in the Indian classical dance of Bharatanatyam, but this is grounded in the broader traditional folk dances of India, which are all explored at the Athlone-based school.

Through their interaction with Jazzart, the UCT School of Dance and the Spanish dance company Larosa, they have also explored contemporary, African and Spanish dance forms.

“The production is a celebration of all of that,” said school principal and Jhoomkar director Darveshan Rama.

Each of the teachers have choreographed pieces for the 35 dancers taking part in Jhoomkar, and they will also show off their “Bollywood” skills as well as bring in contemporary dance styles, Rama said.

“It sounds like a mishmash, but we’re a team of teachers and choreographers and each of us has quite a different style and that’s what was endearing to us, that which is unique,” said Rama.

Most of them used the starting point of specific music pieces or a look that they wanted to achieve, but there is also everyone’s favourite piece which reflects a celebration of 20 years of freedom in South Africa.

“Reviewing the past, and kind of celebrating freedom,” explained Rama.

The 35 dancers range in age from 11 to 40-something and consist of 19 students who have not yet completed the basic training, 12 senior dancers who have, and “the oldies”: dancers, Rama explains, (including herself) who have been with the school for several years.

Other than Sarveshan, all of the dancers are either at school or have jobs, so the dancing is not what they do all the time, but it is what they love doing.

Jhoomkar is not only a celebration of the school’s birthday though, but also of the passing of the baton to a new generation.

The school’s founder Savithri Naidoo moved to Australia five years ago, and they are now starting to explore the next generation’s take on choreography and the interpretation of the classic dances.

“It’s a celebration of the school going into the future.

“A time for us to celebrate revival and renewal, while paying tribute to all who have come before and made it possible for the present to be as it is,” said Rama.

• Jhoomkar is on at the Artscape Theatre on Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets: R100 from Computicket.

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