Musical Dance Drama-2017….

Inspiration was an Indian-Movie. You read it right!

Dil To Pagal Hai(1997) Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri-Dixit Nene, and Karishma Kapoor under the direction of Yash Chopra. Though not much into movies, Mrs. Hetal Nagaraj was very selective back then about feeding her eyes when it comes to the magic of Indian Cinema(Bollywood). To sit that long for a movie was a non-sense deal to her back then. But a musical drama as part of the movie itself had her all excited and she watched it finally in 2001 and it never left her mind. She thought maybe she could do likewise in Indian Folk Dances, Bharatnatyam..some day if she would get to do it!

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Testing Waters of Musical Drama in Recital 2017 with Role Play of Guest Artist with Bollywood Beginners. May 2017. Picture Courtesy: Phani Pydimaari, Picture Captions and Edits : The Grace Effects.

The whole idea of musicals in Indian Folk Dances and Bharatnatyam(or any classical dances of India) existed back then too. These had very matured audiences and trained performers back then. There were several musical ballets happening in the city(Ahmedabad, India) with the elements of Nritya and intricate elements of Natya combined very beautifully! Mrs.Hetal Nagaraj had watched several notable works from some of the most well-known theater productions to recorded-live musicals by amateur artists/college students for fund-raising activities on women-upbringing, child-marriages, religion riots in Ahmedabad city areas and so on!

But all these years, as if it took its own time to get into the plan of action. 2017, she came back home with a big YAHOO after a chaotic day of a culture community event organized by Indian Association of North Texas, Dallas-Texas(USA). She finally did it in a public community event(India-Day 2017) in Dallas-Texas(U.S.A) under 5 minutes with props!

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                                                                                                                                        Indian Folk Dance Category and Fusion Category – 2017 Public Performance. Picture Courtesy-The Grace Effects(Added here-Feb 5, 2017)

Not 1, but 2 of those musicals in Indian Folk Dances and Bollywood-Fusion Dances Categories. She took up this challenge when the songs that were ready to go on stage had her scratch the head! And she asked, why not? We had done a mini-version of it in Recital 2016 to test the waters. And so January 21, 2017 was a big day! It was challenging to get all the props all the way to the stage. Thanks to our choreographers Mansi Chauhan and Deepthi Chandrasekaran who made themselves available last moment and it worked out just well. The only challenge was that it was a public event and it was not in their control unlike Recital 2016! However, Choreography and set-up was already planned as most of the students knew their part well enough as it was work of our Recital 2016 : Dance of Gods featuring Adi-Shakti in their own categories. But the Yahoo part was that they managed to cover all the Navarasa (The 9 Moods) as per Natya-Shastra in both the category dances without breaking the rules of any category and yet keeping it creative enough for community fun-performances. Not about perfection but basic requirements were met.

We were able to keep intact the dance categories that our students were trained in(their joined programs). As per our research, it has never happened in Dallas-Fortworth Areas(until 2017 January) and that makes us very first people to do it(Yes!). We have seen dance lessons been taught in the name of Folk, Bharatnatyam and yet ended up showcasing just plain Bollywood Stuff.

Just how she had to believe one more time in all the training that she did in past and all that she had taught to her students. It went well and smoother than she had expected for what was in her control. Fundamentals never run out of fashion and formulas don’t change! It will teach you not only common sense but there is a reason why rules exist in pretty much in any performing arts. If you follow fundamental elements of Indian performing arts(Natya Shashtra in this case) then you will cover pretty much everything with little efforts. Creativity is just an added element to it. 

Dil To Pagal Hai-True, we mean it. Now, you call that a Phrase, Bollywood Movie Name, Indian Folk Dance or Classical Bharatnatyam-none of our business. Don’t come after us for this!

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