No próxima Sábado, dia 15 de Maio, haverá um espectáculo de dança e música indiana na Aula Magna, em Lisboa.
Entrevistámos Lajja Sambhavnath, bailarina e professora de Kathak da Comunidade Hindu de Portugal, que teve a amabilidade de nos ceder algum tempo para responder às nossas questões.
Previamente publicámos a tradução da entrevista - para que pudesse ser acompanhada pelos nossos leitores que não falam Inglês - e aqui está a versão original. Uma vez que há significados que frequentemente se perdem nas traduções, aconselhamos quem puder a ler esta versão.
Next Saturday, 15th May, an Indian music and dance performance will be held at Aula Magna, in Lisbon.
We interviewed Lajja Sambhavnath, dancer and Kathak teacher at the Comunidade Hindu de Portugal, who had the kindness to take the time and answer some questions.
We have previously published the Portuguese translation of the interview so that our non-English speaking readers could follow it, and here is the original version.
Because there are some meanings that can be lost in translation, we advise all those who can to read this version.
GM First of all, please tell us a little bit more about yourself. When and how did you start learning Indian classical dance?
LS I believe in exploring dance (Indian Classical Dance -Kathak) as a flexible medium to bridge sensitivities with sensibilities eventually leading towards a progression of ‘minds’ and of ‘arts’. The inherent resilience of Kathak and its ability to absorb change and lend itself to innovations as a form of dance has always fascinated me.
During my course of study in the Jaipur school of Kathak (Bachelor’s degree), a chance meeting with Padmabhushan Kumudini Lakhia, in the early phase of my thought process almost obligated me to learn under her tutelage resulting in a fellowship research (University Grants Commission, Government of India) titled ‘Contemporary Sensibilities vis a vis the heritage of Kathak’. A visionary at core she taught me to build the bridge between life and art and to appreciate the dignity of human body as a dancer.
I further hold a graduate and a post graduate degree in Performing Arts Traditional Jaipur School of Kathak from the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara and a graduate degree in Clothing and Textiles specializing in Indian Handlooms, from the same university.
LS Usually there are two sets of students – one from Indian parentage and the others from the larger European community and the local Portuguese community.
To begin with the students who enrol come with an idea of India (and Indian arts and dances), as something beautiful, enigmatic at the same time mysterious. Their instant association is with Bollywood films and the more recent and much famous television serial ‘ Caminhos da India’ and the idea of India and Indian arts and dances portrayed within. To put it briefly the above two sets of students have any of the three basic approaches:
1) Inquisitive ( they are curious) they come with curious mind, to learn something that is alien to their culture and so is worth trying to explore.
2 ) There are these professionals; some of them have also had previous training or are simultaneously undergoing training in other western dance form. These students aim at learning a new movement vocabulary to their already practising one, which of course though different from theirs – aesthetically and principally, however does enrich their already existing movement vocabulary.
3) The other group comes with academic interest. They come with deep study and knowledge about the arts/ dance aspects and come out of respect and to explore this different world and to deepen their understanding.
GM Kathak was born in Northern India and is a means of storytelling. Could you tell us about its techniques and repertoires?
LS Kathak originated in the Gangetic plains of North India. As its name implies, Kathak was the dance of the story-tellers, ‘katha’ meaning story and ‘Kathak’ meaning one who tells a story. This dance form traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or story tellers.
The technique of Kathak today is characterized by fast rhythmic footwork set to complex time cycles. The dance movements include numerous pirouettes executed at lightning speed and ending in statuesque poses. The footwork is matched by the accompanying percussion instruments such as tabla, and the dancer and percussionists often indulge in a virtuoso display of rhythmic wizardry. The interpretative portion, based on tales of Radha and Krishna and other mythological lore, contains subtle gestures and facial expressions. The combination of flamboyance with reticence makes it one of the most “natural” Classical Dance forms. It is also one of the most influencing Classical dance forms in the Bollywood today.
The repertoire consist of various compositions, which have abstract movement vocabulary, and are named according to their technical content, like Amad, Paran, Toda, Tihayi, etc. The other aspect is the narrative where the movements are done to the spoken word consists of Thumri, Kavit, Bhajan, Ghazal etc.
GM What role do you think classical dance has in contemporary India? Are classical dance performances seen only in a "learned" context or are they part of the lives of ordinary people?
LS India is one of the few countries which is uncommonly gifted as a culture and to compliment it, its culture has been preserved, as it is still a part of the lives of its people. We are still attached with our roots to Classical dance. So even today this attachment is strong and in fact it is spreading due to the electronic revolution especially in the field of communication.
Agreed; that Classical Dance is for ‘learned audience’. But one must also remember that the audience who has culture in their blood and veins need not be that learned to follow. Also in case of Classical Dance Kathak, in particular, it has ample flexibility to adapt and be more communicative without loosing its essence.
GM Since we love Indian movies, we'd like to know if you can think of any actor or coreographer in particular who has really done classical dance justice.
LS Choreographers like my Guru Padmabhushan Kumudini Lakhia (done the choreography of the old ‘Umrao Jaan’ starring Rekha) , Pandit Birju Maharaj (for films like Shatranj Ke Kiladi directed by Satyajit Ray, and lately ‘Devdas’) late Gauri Shankarji (for ‘Pakeezah’) to name a few.
Of the actors, its Madhuri Dixit.
Venue: Aula Magna
Date: 15th May 2010 - Saturday
Time: 9:30 PM
Children above 3 are allowed
Tickets sold at:
Reservations/Informations: 707 234 234
FNAC, Agência Abreu, Worten, CC Dolce Vita, Megarede, El Corte Ingles (Lisbon and Vila Nova de Gaia)