Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dance Frenzy in Nashville

Summer madness started with Rabindra Jayanti in May. After the harsh winter, summer was a blessing. Little did any of us know about Hurricane Irene! At RDM we got started with our busy rehearsal schedules, simply glad to be out of our winter clothes. On the eve of Rabindranath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary celebrations were held on a grand scale at Rutgers Universty. RDM performed at the day long festivities. It was an auspicious start to our dance season.
More shows were lined up in June. We went on to perform at the closing ceremony for Zalak dance festival. Rehearsals were in full swing in the summer heat. I was gripped by dance fever. RDM performed at Akhil Autism fundraiser and ended the season with NABC Banga Sammelan, Baltimore.
I continued with the superbly organized RBC in Nashville getting to perform as a solo artist at the prestigious opening night for Regional Bengali Conference. Being on stage prior to the legendary singer Kavita Krishnamurthy & current sensation Aneek Dhar was itself a great honor. I thanked my stars for being in a dance frenzy practically dancing every weekend. It was my best performance to date. Picture perfect in every sense.I am grateful to the organizers for having such faith in me,to the audience for appreciating me and to my Guru for giving me the strength to stay focussed.Nashville will always hold fond memories in my heart.

Pandal hopping this Puja

As dance season 2011 draws to an end, I feel guilty at neglecting my blogs. This summer was as demanding as the past month of Durga Puja. In America puja spreads out over a month. People have plenty of opportunities to drive and go pandal hopping. My long desire of dancing in every puja of New Jersey came true. We started with Voorhees, South Jersey then danced at Plainfield, Central Jersey and finished with Jersey City. RDM Kids went to other puja pandals and Dusherra festival to cover all major celebrations in the state.
Meticulous planning & logistics was involved in performing continuously for 4 weekends. Changing costumes can prove to be an art but now we have mastered it. Keeping calm and having a prescence of mind is the key to appearing unfluttered specially if we have to go on stage before time. I am now very careful with taking my watch off in the car.You never know when the curtain goes up.
All the sweat & hardwork paid off as we capured the heart of the audience. The halls were jampacked as the crowd swayed to the beats of our ghungroos.It was homecoming for RDM.
The last show was at the university campus in PA. The love & enthusiasm of the students and faculty draws us to the campus.It feels like home. I can drive in any weather along the windy roads of the interstate. I performed dasabatar with Mitradi. Something very challenging since my friends were caught up with their own fasting challenge. This year Karva chauth clashed with Diwali fest. We finished dancing before the moon was out and my friends could break their fast.

Baltimore bound

The fourth of July weekend is marked annually by the largest gathering of Bengalis in the world. Banga Sammelan is a mega event attended by Bengalis all over North America. The 3 day festival transforms any locale to Kolkata. 2005 was the first time I attended Banga Sammelan in New York City. I was too stressed out seeing people change sarees at every meal. To top it I climbed the Empire state building thinking I was beating the crowds. That was the day I learnt my lesson;never to do anything but dance on show day.Over the years I have perfected this balancing act of dancing, sightseeing and changing sarees.
Like Atlantic City,Inner harbour, Baltimore was transformed into another street of Kolkata with ladies displaying their beautiful sarees & glittering jewelry. We too joined the fashion parade all dolled up teasing one another,chatting non-stop in Bengali and browsing the Indian stores. To the delight of my family,I have now turned into an avid Bengali movie watcher. Meeting acclaimed director Sandeep Ray, actress Raima Sen, singers Alka Yagnik and Kumar Sanu was the highlight of our stay.I was glad to be in tune with the movie scene.
It was 2 days of non-stop fun. Hanging out with friends until the wee hours of morning,listening to Indian music and watching cultural shows. Luckily we were scheduled to perform in the afternoon. There was barely enough time to grab coffee & breakfast before the gruelling dance preparations started. The dances went well and the costume changes were perfectly timed.Performance over, once again we joined the crowd in our new sarees,getting into the spirit of the festival.
It was an ideal combination of dance & socializing.It felt like the last day of puja once the closing ceremony was over. Unless you attend these events you never realize the enthusiasm of the diaspora who put so much passion to keep a part of their culture alive.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

A trip down memory lane

I always feel nostalgic during this time of the year. Couple of years back,I made that crucial call to Guru Mitra that changed my life forever. After waiting a lifetime I had to know if my dreams of pursuing Odissi would ever materialize? Or would I have to train to be an aerobics instructor(another of my crazy obsessions)?
I had never heard of anyone teaching adults classical dance. Mitra is a pioneer in that field. After years of teaching school kids, she had started training a few adults. I stuck around the adult & kid classes till my basics were perfected. I knew I was on the right track when my muscles ached. Mitra was the perfect guru for me, with her wealth of knowledge & never ending enthusiasm, she was determined never to let me give up. She always set the bar high, forcing me to dance under all circumstances & making me drive long distances, (to her disappointment I still cannot parallel park).
I learnt to dream big. I promised to train harder than anyone else to realize this dream of mine.
For years we had a mixed group of kids & adults performing all over New Jersey. But somewhere down the line, more & more adults started signing up till we formed RDM professionals in April 2010.It gives me immense happiness to see the girls so motivated.They literally keep me on my feet. I am grateful for getting such a great bunch of friends. Together we dream of many more successful shows.