Aug 142012
 

Final poster for the Chitrangada premiere

Today, I placed the print order for the final version of the poster I introduced in my previous post. Obhi and our designer, Debangana Banerjee, thought that my name should appear on the poster. I preferred to leave it out as Chitrangada is a team effort.

However, in the end, I made a deal with Obhi that my name could appear on the poster on condition that his did too. Hence the above result.

I also ordered a set of ‘visiting cards’ about the premiere. Here are the front and back:

Front of visiting card announcing the premiere

Back of visiting card announcing the premiere

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from this, we made progress with various things, including narrowing down our search for a cost-effective online ticketing system. More about that soon.

That was all I had intended to write for today but, this evening, a retweet by @Peacelovingguy reminded me of a comment made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron at the end of last week: “a lot of schools were meeting [the target of two hours a week of sports in schools] by doing things like Indian dancing or whatever, that you and I probably wouldn’t think of as sport …”. This apparently led to an item on Newsnight including members of Bollywood Dance London ”bringing a highly-athletic Indian dance which is taught in schools all over south-east [England] including, it seems, Eton College” (David Cameron’s former school).

Mira Kaushik OBE, Director of Akademi Dance, commented on Saturday. Shalini Bhalla of Just Jhoom!, “the only accredited Bollywood dance-fitness company based in the UK”, published their response to David Cameron, which ended with an “open invitation to you to participate in a Just Jhoom! dance session alongside a group of school children.”

Even in the early days of the school Rabindranath Tagore started at Santiniketan, he included dance in the curriculum, although he had to do so discreetly. In early 20th century India, educated parents would not want their children to dance. So he explained to parents that the children would be “exercising to drum rhythms”.

It took him almost almost three decades to overcome this negative attitude to dance before he could create and stage the three dance-dramas we have filmed, including Chitrangada. It was a social revolution for which Tagore was largely responsible and which allowed Indian dance to be seen on stage.

By the time I went to the school, all the pupils were taught dance from an early age. Tagore believed that culture, including dance, music, arts and crafts, allowed children to express themselves. He had seen that his two-year-old grand-daughter displayed her excitement at his arrival one day through her body language, even though she did not yet have the vocabulary to do so verbally.

Perhaps it would be wise for UK schools to take another look at Tagore’s educational philosophy, which Supriyo Tagore expressed succinctly in Dipu’s Story, the documentary by Séamas McSwiney about Santiniketan Sishutirtha. It has been responsible for several distinguished people, such as former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen.

So maybe UK schools should include dance in the curriculum, but as culture rather than as a sport.

Oh, and real Indian dancers have to do much more than 2 hours’ physical exercise per week! I wonder if David Cameron would like to try Kaberi’s Indian dance workout … ?

 

Sep 112011
 

Kaberi

Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not.
Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own.
Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger.
I am uneasy at heart when I have to leave my accustomed shelter;
I forgot that there abides the old in the new, and that there also thou abidest.
Through birth and death, in this world or in others,
wherever thou leadest me it is thou, the same, the one companion of my endless life
who ever linkest my heart with bonds of joy to the unfamiliar.
When one knows thee, then alone there is none, then no door is shut.
Oh, grant me my prayer that I may never lose
the bliss of the touch of the One in the play of the many.

Rabindranath Tagore, 1911

That is exactly how I feel as I sit down to write my first ever blog post. It is only possible for a great poet like Rabindranath (Nobel Prize for Literature, 1913) to explain it in this way. It is amazing how Rabindranath managed to express the different feelings of human life.

Rabindranath has had a major influence on my life. Very often I look to his words to express my feelings.

I grew up in his home town of Santiniketan – “the abode of peace.” My grandfather Shibdas Roy joined the school set up by Rabindranath in Santiniketan. He was a very good singer and a musician. Thanks to his singing, he was one of Rabindranath’s favourite students. He became an honorary teacher at the China Bhavan, teaching English to Tibetan monks.

Later on, my father also joined Rabindranath’s school.

Years later still, it was my grandfather who took me along and enrolled me in Rabindranath’s school. I was lucky enough to grow up in such a wonderful, artistic and open air environment.

From time to time, I feel like sharing different things with those around me with similar interests. That’s why I decided to start this blog.

People often ask me about Tagore dance, Manipuri dance, our Tagore dance film trilogy, Indian cooking and my Indian dance workout. However, I don’t usually have the opportunity to give a complete answer. I hope my blog will provide at least more of the answer.

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