Nova Bhattacharya is a dancer and choreographer who brings her classical bharatanatyam training into the world of contemporary dance. In addition to her October 14th onstage performance, Date with Dance, at Imperial Theatre, we asked Nova to conduct two workshops for students, dancers and dance enthusiasts in the greater Saint John area. Called Bharatanatyam Basics, the workshops introduced participants to the steps, hand gestures, storytelling, and abstract elements of bharatanatyam.
On the morning of October 8th, students of Dance 110 and Theatre Arts 110 at KVHS met in the school’s mini-gym where Nova explained every detail of the Bharatanatyam movement – from the stomping of the floor to where the eyes were focused while dancing. The hour-long class was focused not only on the movements but on the meanings behind each one. For example, stomping on the ground represents the earth below you. Stomping on the ground is part of the opening and closing dance combination/prayer.
Toward the end of the class, Nova performed a piece from her show, and the students were able to identify movements and the story she was telling, about the Hindu God Ganesh, thanks to their lesson.
That same evening at 7:00 pm, a workshop was held for a public audience, and we were pleased to partner with Nawal Doucette of Natural Moves to host the workshop in their uptown studio. This second workshop was filled to capacity and included a group of dance students from Natural Moves, other studios around the city, and members of synchronized swimming team, anxious to learn some of the techniques and hand gestures used in storytelling.
In the 90-minute class, the students learned the same technique, but Nova also taught the 9 Rasas, or essential emotions of bharatanatyam dance: Anger, Fear, Love, Bravery, Peace, Laughter, Disgust, Compassion, and Wonder. “Wherever your hands go – your eyes must follow. Wherever your eyes go – your soul follows.”
Thanks again to Nawal Doucette and Melissa Wright for helping to organize and host the workshops, and to Nova Bhattacharya for coming to teach.
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