Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Flamenco or Bharathanatyam ?

I was smitten ever since I first saw the gypsies perform Flamenco in Sacromento in Granada. After I saw the second show in Madrid, I decided to look up beginner courses in Munich and came across a 3-hour sunday workshop and in a fit, Ashok and I signed up for it last month.

The friday before the workshop, I had written an email with a list of questions to the instructor asking about the kind of shoes and clothes that one had to wear to be fit-for-purpose (I learnt this the hard way after showing up in a tap class with rubber soled Nike shoes ! In my defense, I had assumed they would have spare shoes)! On Sunday, I was a little nervous. Given that I enjoyed dancing immensely and I was reasonably good at it (even if I say so myself), I was surprised at this reaction. Then it dawned on me…although I have coaxed (read, asking him with eyes that would water any minute…devil emoticon :D) Ashok to dance with me a number of times at home, we had never danced together ‘’officially’’ in a class.

The workshop started right on time and my nervousness ended up being unfounded since Flamenco can have a man and a woman dancing very independently without the former leading the latter. The first few warm-up steps were really easy and while I was slowly getting confident the instructor started on wrist movements, just like in Bharathanatyam. There are two main differences – one, there are only a select few movements in Flamenco when compared to Bharathanatyam and second, the hand and leg movements do not follow the same tempo in Flamenco. To me this was the frustrating part, you move your legs in a really fast rhythm while your hands should move in a slow fluid motion and this seemed simply impossible.

My frustration lessened when I noticed that others were having the same trouble (human nature!) and I even brightened up a little when I realized that I was the second best student in the class (the first being a girl with some experience in Flamenco).

The instructor gave us some history on Flamenco and how it was developed by the Gypsies (who actually migrated from India) and a crash course on how to identify the different kinds of Flamenco music and different forms that either evolve with families or as separate styles. We dealt with Seguiriyas and Tangos.

Basically the dancer is in-charge of letting the singer know that he/she (I am going to use ‘’she’’ for convenience) is ready to begin or she is going to do a special piece. However when the singer gets creative, the dancer should obviously cope with it and just like in Bharathanatyam the dancer can get away with an elegant pose even if she is not prepared.

Although the instructor was well versed, she had not planned the workshop too well. It was a little haphazard and everyone had a tough time catching up with her.

The posture, the rhythm (can be extremely different like different thalams) all reminded me time and again of Bharathanatyam and at the end of the workshop I came to the same decision that I took with Bharathanatyam – it is a great form of art I love and admire, requires time, due diligence and discipline to learn and hence is not suitable for someone like me just looking to have a little fun (with) dancing!

Ashok (more than happily) agreed with my decision (read vitta podhum :D)! He was comfortable with the session and was good at it too ! It gives me one more reason to cajole him into ballroom dancing ;)
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