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     Volume 4 Issue 36 | March 4 , 2005 |

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Life Style

Dancing like no one's Watching!

Elita Karim

Remember Jack Nicholson's famous dialogue 'Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?' in Batman? Well, in this case, you don't really have to dance in the pale moonlight. In fact, you wouldn't have to go to all the trouble to dance with the devil either. If you want a taste of the Mamba, Cha Cha Cha and other latino dances like the Salsa, then all you have to do is Tango all the way to the South Avenue Club and register for the dance classes that take place there twice every week.

Majid Shekhaliev, choreographer and the dance instructor at the club, comes all the way from Russia and has been giving dance classes in Dhaka for the past three years at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture. He had also choreographed the dance sequence in Brand, a theatre production by the Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT), in Dhaka. With a certified degree in Russian folk dances and Choreography, Majid has been working with the Lezagenna, a very popular Russian folk dance group all over Europe for over 20 years.

Here in Dhaka with a business proposal for a Windmill Power Station in Bangladesh, Majid uses his free time to give dance classes at the South Avenue Club, while working on the project the rest of the week. Less competent in spoken English, Majid has an impressive grasp of Bangla and speaks fluently about his experiences. "I had first come to Bangladesh in the year 1998," he said. "It was solely for business, so I left afterwards. In a few months, the Russian Cultural Centre had invited me to Dhaka to give dance classes here. That was three years ago, and since then I had been teaching dance here in Dhaka," he adds.

Being a very popular choreographer in his own country, Majid has worked with the Russian Cinema for over six years. "Every time I go back to my country, producers still ask me to choreograph for their productions," he continued. "Cinema is a completely different world, where choreography and the dance forms are concerned. It's a beautiful creation in it self." Has he been giving any thought to the choreography in cinema in Bangladesh by any chance? "Yes, of course!" he exclaimed. "As I said, cinema is a wonderful creation and gets better when dance becomes an integral part of it. I did speak to some regarding choreographing for the cinema here in this country. I know I can do a good job of it, if only they would give me a chance. I would do it free initially!" said Majid, smiling and sipping tea at the South Avenue Club Cafe.

Clad in dark slacks and dance shoes, Majid had his students at the club feel at ease with the basic steps of Mamba. With a "1, 2, 3, tap, 5, 6, 7, tap" the dancers tried out these foreign steps, which looked quite simple but actually had them catching their breath every time they missed a tap.

"This is my second class and I am so not good at dancing!" smiled an American student. "I joined Majid's classes only because my friend takes these classes up and promised me that they would be fun. And they are" he adds.

A Bangladeshi student claimed that it was her third class and she seems to pick up steps perfectly in Mamba, Samba and the Salsa as well. "None of us are very good dancers here," she informs. "But it's very refreshing to get together here every Wednesdays and Saturdays after work to learn something new and foreign," she adds.

Sundeep, an expatriate living in Dhaka and having a special attraction towards Salsa, went out of his way to help the other students with their steps and taps.

"It is very refreshing, in a way, to learn about an art form completely foreign to us," the students exclaimed. "After a day's full of work, it feels great to divert your mind and skills towards Mamba and the Cha Cha Cha for a change" she added.


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