Monday, October 3, 2011

Interview with legend Kathak dancer Shama Bhate.

Q. When did kathak dance undergo changes and came to be known as classical dance in India?
Ans. It underwent changes during the British rule as before it was not popularly known. After the British rule it started emerging in various places and was being performed by many known people. The way of presentation has definitely changed but not in any technical part. ie. Mudras, adavas etc. have remained the same.

Q. If Natyashashtra describes only one form of dance then how come so many dance styles have emerged from it?
Ans. Natyashashtra does not talk about tension. Eg. Pataka hasta is shown quite softly in kathak dance but the same is quite stiff in Bharatanatyam. As knowledge has also traveled through the gurushishya parampara, may be such things have also brought about changes in dancing styles.

Q. Did it undergo strong changes during the Mughal period?
Ans. Only technical changes and not many major changes are seen.

Q. Are their different methods or techniques for man and woman?
Ans. Only during practical teaching to man and woman.

Q. Why is it seen that there are more number of songs based on lord Krishna than Shiva or Rama?
Ans. No, there are number of shiva songs for kathak dancers too. Shiva is hilarious, but Krishna offers you a lot of lyrics, enthusiasm on the otherside Rama has a silent image.

Q. Why doesn’t Kathak have Dasha Avatar?
Ans. Undoubtfully it has. I have myself performed Dasha Avatar in many of my programmes.

Q. A different side of Kathak?
Ans. The way of using the expressions, abhinaya, actions, etc. it’s more realistic.

Q. When was ‘thumri’ added into Kathak?
Ans. It was added during the Mughal period. Ashtapadi, Sanchalis were performed till that time. Pictures of shades, depth of emotions could be seen.

Q. From when have you been learning dance?
Ans. I have been learning dance now for more than 40 yrs. till I was 20-22, I didn’t ever take up dance as my full time carrier. It was after that I took it professionally.

Q. Can you tell us about your Guru/ Guru’s?
Ans. Rohini tai (Dr. Rohini Bhate) is my great guru. But I have also taken training from Pandit Suresh Talwalkar. I have talked to him about rhythm and different compositions, as I was always interested in learning different things.

Q. What do you think as you are such known and successful dancer what could be the reason behind it? What is that keeps you known in all other dancers?
Ans. First of all thanks a lot for the compliment you have given me. I have taken traditional classical traning for a long period of time, which has enabled me to get a hold over n number of compositions, abhinaya. Sensitive and always welcoming for other music, dance styles, Traveled to different countries like America, London etc. and observed the way they dealt dance and stage performances which developed in me different thinking and imagination.
Once I had attended a seminar-com-workshop of some lady from America. I am really sorry I don’t remember her name. She explained the dance in very different style rather I should say, in different language. She called circle a sphere, square as cube and when our whole body is taken under consideration she called it cylinder or can even form cone. This drastically changed my way of thinking. I started presenting my programs with different choreographies. I took a theme and tried to present in many different ways so that the audience would appreciate me and even my students.
Looking further we can see that kathak is a rigid form of dance and has some restrictions but they can be pulled a little bit to some other end, which fascinates me to choreograph differently. Classical dance can have many forms.

Q. What is margam called in kathak and what do you think is the time span needed to complete it?
Ans. Margam is known as ‘Silsila’ in kathak. It can take approximately 10 yrs. But it can even take more or less than that as per the student’s capacity. Talking about the time span of one particular dance item it can vary from 10mins to 40-45 mins. Varman is known or adjacent to thumri in kathak dance.

Q. Why isn’t the Younger generation not much interested in these dance forms?
Ans. Different levels could be considered, as lots of students leave it soon, do not try to make much physical allotment of time and not much financial returns.

Q. How long will classical dance be known to this world?
Ans. Classical dance/music is the real India. Others like painting, theatre, movies have undergone lots of changes. Dance and music are the true preventatives. They can’t vanish over. There could be highs and lows in their popularity. They are eternal beauty and society has to respect them.

Q. Can you tell us your memorable moment in life related to dance might be on stage?
Ans. Once I had to perform in open stage, where the audiences were sitting in open and the stage had shelter. Soon the program started it started raining, but people applauded and asked to continue the performance. Sooner it started dropping on the stage and we had to stop. It was the most memorable moment in my life where I really could experience the love from my audiences.

Thank You.

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