Windhoek – A six-person troupe of Indian Kathak dancers that travelled to Namibia courtesy of a cultural sponsorship from Delhi held rivetting cultural perfomances over the weekend in which they entertained hundreds of Namibians, including Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.
The Kathak dancers that performed at the National Theatre of Namibia in Windhoek on Friday in a performance graced by Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Indian High Commissioner to Namibia Kumar Tuhin, as well as other local lovers of Kathak and members of the diplomatic fraternity.
Kathak narrates myth and religious poetry using subtle hand gestures and facial expressions. Kathak literally means ‘story’ in Hindi. One of the ancient great classical dance forms it is the most popular dance form in India. Indeed Kathak became a fully-fledged hereditary art as it evolved over hundreds of years. It is particularly characterised by brilliant footwork and rapid spins performed on complicated beat cycles.
The visiting Indian dancers included four women and two men led by Purnima Roy Chowdhury, a famed young exponent of Kathak, who belongs to the Jaipur Gharana (family) of Kathak. She not only performs Kathak, but is also trained in several other dance forms, such as folk dance, Chhau and creative dances. She has performed at several international venues, including in Nepal, Mauritius, Vietnam, Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
She is also an experienced choreographer and has directed some songs in Bollywood movies.
The dance troupe performed to the packed to capacity National Theatre of Namibia on Friday and also performed in Swakopmund on Sunday at the Namib Primary Aula. They also conducted a dance workshop at the College of the Arts in Windhoek on Saturday and presented a lecture demonstration at the Culture Centre of the High Commission of India on Monday.
The performances and workshops of the Indian dance troupe have received high acclaim everywhere they went. The performance consisted of seven short dance pieces. They began with an invocation to the Divine, which is the usual way of starting any art performance. Since Kathak is a classical dance form, it has its own language, structure, and vocabulary.
The second piece was highly technical during which Purnima Roychowdhury not only gave a demonstration of various technical terms, structures and the vocabulary of Kathak, but also performed on different beat cycles, which is quite a complicated routine and requires several years of practice.
Other dance pieces consisted of stories related to Indian mythology, wherein there was an interesting piece on depicting the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies and on achieving balance and respect for both genders.
The group ended their performance with a “peace dance”, wishing peace and prosperity for everyone. The guiding philosophy behind this was the following Sanskrit verse: “Let it be so ordained that all the people experience wellbeing. Let all humans experience peace and tranquility. Let all people experience wholeness and completeness.
Let them see with their own eyes the goodness of life. Let all of us experience prosperity and happiness.”
Indian High Commissioner to Namibia Kumar Tuhin said: “The group was overwhelmed by the response from the Namibian audience and people. Their performance at the National Theatre in Windhoek was greeted with repeated applause. They were also excited to find that young learners at the College of the Arts here were able to pick up the basic steps of Kathak dance very quickly.
“It further strengthened their belief that Namibian students are blessed with a natural flair for arts, especially music and dance, and that there are immense possibilities for collaboration between our two countries.
“In Swakopmund too, the Indian dance troupe was thrilled to find that some very young children, seated right in the first row were attempting to replicate with considerable success what the dancers were doing on stage,” the High Commissioner said.
He said the group’s most memorable performance was at the National Theatre in Windhoek, adding: “Since it is extremely important to connect with the audience the two MCs (masters of ceremonies) for the event adopted a unique way of conversation between them and asking probable questions that audience would have in their minds about the dance, its characteristics, the themes, etc., and attempted to answer these, so that the audience could better appreciate the dance performance.”
Tuhin further said, “It was indeed a matter of great honour and privilege for us that the Prime Minister Right Honourable Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila could take time out from her hectic schedule to grace the event.”