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    Volume 9 Issue 10| March 5, 2010|

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Mamba, Ramba, Samba and More

Fayza Haq

Nilima Chowdhury

Learning how to dance to the seductive rhythm of the Samba or doing complicated moves of the Mamba have become a part of the chic urbanite's lifestyle the dance fever seems to have hit some of Dhaka dwellers as well. In her thirties, dance instructor Nilima Chowdhury, teaches ballroom and Latin dances at Kozmo, Dhanmondi. Nilima says that she has had good teachers from the outset. Having conservative parents, her mother being a headmistress and her father a businessman, it was not the most ideal professions to choose. Nilima, as a child, learned classical eastern singing from experts, at home and later, in Narayanganj.

Being an admirer of brave women who have come to the forefront, like Sue Ki Wong , Simone de Bouvoir, Marie Curie , the Bronte sisters, Nilima today faces the slings and arrows of life , and marches ahead bravely, as her siblings, friends and acquaintances cheer her on. Today Nilima's parents have come to accept her passion for dancing and of course, for teaching with finesse and expertise. She has been taught by Russian dance instructor Majid Shukhalev.

Nilima has ten learners who form an exclusive group. They include civil servants, students, doctors, engineers and other professionals. Some of her students know Indian classical dance and wish to add to their knowledge of dancing. This they hope to do by learning Latino dances such as the Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa , Maringe, Rumba, Jive, Paso, Duble and Ballroom dancing as well. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 7.30 p.m. till 8.30 p.m. They have piped background music to dance to.

So what has made Latino dancing so popular among Dhaka's dance enthusiasts? Nilima explains that many of her students travel a lot and so want to know how to dance in these styles. But it is also because of the influence of satellite TV where dance competitions are regularly aired she adds, that has created this interest in Latino dances. Latin and ballroom dancing is taught at Alliance Francaise, Russian Centre for Science, and Culture. There are also some private classes held by expatriate dance experts in Gulshan.

For Nilima personally, she has been dancing all her life and has always been interested in experimenting with different forms " From the age of six, when I was exposed to Indian classical dancing on different TV channels, I told my mother of my interest and she suggested that I should learn it." says Nilima. "I leant from the Ustads, Kalipodo Modokh and Nrita Shaha, from Naraynganj , who give private lessons. I was their student for about ten years, learning 'Rabindra Sangeet', "Nazrul Sangeet' as well as folk songs. As a child, I would spread talcum powder on the floor, and danced to imaginary tunes. I twisted, turned and whirled my limbs, neck, face, fingers and what you will while following the tunes in my mind."

" At that time, my goal was set on Indian dances only. I always wanted to be a dancer of some merit. Dancing and music also soothes the nerves as do all performing arts along with theatre performances and creditable pieces cultural pieces. Whenever I went swimming I imagined that I was dancing in water," says Chowdhury.

After gathering her dancing knowledge under Kamrun Islam Nadim at the Russian Culture Centre for about eight months and Majid Shikhalav at the Alliance Francaise for two years, Nilima then moved to a Japanese dance expert, who was trained at Bangkok, who made modern dancing easy and put finesse in her knowledge of Ballroom dancing. “Coming from Osaka, she put you at ease,” says Nilima and knew all the rhythms very well, like all dancing experts. I was taught the three basics of modern dancing which include: One has to enjoy oneself, follow the rhythm, and follow the music with one's steps. Hiro- Mayashi's private lessons added to my confidence. An Indian instructor, based in UK, called Anand Achinta, also helped me enormously," says Nilima.

Chowdhury adds, " Why does one go in for dancing? There is no end to learning, as they put it. I've had years of experience; I want to learn all there is to learn, and so complete my knowledge of this performing art. It soothes my nerves and boosts my own ego. The element of self-satisfaction is immense in this learning and teaching process. To trip on the light fantastic toe makes one heady with happiness. In fact, 'my cup runneth over'."

" Women have always been 'The Second Sex. ' I don't claim to be 'liberated'. Onlookers may have objections -- but I personally feel that I have a right to be different and follow my goal."


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