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Dancing to a classical tune

I can imagine that seeing the title, many of you ,especially the guys and tomboys out there would want to flip back to the 'cool' stuff in the paper ( if there are any)..but come on …stop being prejudiced and give yourself an opportunity to do and appreciate something new. Even if you find yourself unsuitable or maybe a tad lazy for classical dance, you will inevitably become an admirer of the art and find yourself feasting your eyes to the so beautiful movements of the dancer on stage.

There are many forms of classical dance but the most popular ones are undoubtedly Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Odissi and Manipuri. Each of them is different in technique, style and costume and this arises from the fact that each evolved from a different location of India and holds true to the foundations of which the dances are based. While Kathak focuses mostly on footwork and rhythmic twirls, Bharatnatyam stresses more on hand and eye movements with a characteristic knee bending position throughout the dance. On the other hand Manipuri embodies delicate and graceful movements giving it its undulating and soft appearance. So you can actually chose which form attracts you the most and start learning it from teachers and dancers specialized in that very form.It is a challenging hobby if you take it up and apart from the health and physical benefits which you are bound to get, it would also give you a deep sense of satisfaction to master such beautiful sequences. Once you get into the rhythm you would feel that there is nothing else you would enjoy more at the moment, plus the colourful costumes and melodious nupurs(anklets) give a resplendent aura to your performance.

When folk, modern, western and all kinds of new dance forms have captured the enthusiasm of dhakaites, it is common to regard classical dance as a form only practiced by the 'artists' and hence only a visual treat. But my experience tells me otherwise…there is something gained from it which can't be acquired from any other form of dance. Noted artists hold the opinion that the basis of all forms of dance is rooted to classical dance and it is nonetheless true. It could be held as the basic 'grammer' of dance and if one wants to take up a different form of the art, prior training in classical dance is surely going to make it a smooth ride as it becomes a whole lot easier.

There are numerous institutions in the city where you can enroll to try out dancing. For Kathak, there is 'Rewaz Performing Academy' in Mohammedpur, established by Munmun Ahmed and 'Nrityanchal' run by Shibli Mohammad and Shamim Ara Nipa to note a few. To learn Bharatnatyam, you can try out 'Dhrupad' which is run by renowned Shukla Sarkar. Also check out 'Nrittyam' run by Tamanna Rahman for Manipuri and “Pallavi” for Odissi which was established by Minu Haque. Apart from this there is Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) where Kathak and Bharatnatyam are taught and 'Benuka' where you can learn Kathak and Odissi.

There are some misconceptions that to indulge in dancing you have to start from very early…well not true entirely. Well, if you want to build a career around it, you obviously need years of training and it becomes a whole lot easier if you're involved in it from a young age. But even if you're an adult and just starting off, with the right training and guidance, along with a true passion and dedication to the art, you are bound to succeed.

By Subehee Ahmed


The turnaround

It was a beautiful day. Nusrat opened her eyes and a square patch of sunlight hit her directly between the eyes. She groaned, turned over and her glance fell on the wall calendar which was slightly fluttering in the breeze from the open window. Her eyes looked over the big red crosses she had marked off the days with until the present day which was…

“My birthday! Today's my birthday!' Nusrat jumped out of bed, all sleep forgotten and ran to the door. She was just about to yank it open and conduct her annual birthday disturbance when her eyes fell on her calendar again. And then she remembered. She hadn't been crossing out the days for her birthday. She had done it so that the days till her dad came home from the hospital would pass faster.

Her hand still on the door knob, she paused. She thought about the day her dad had gone out late in the evening to buy some much needed groceries. He had been walking home when suddenly out of nowhere; a car had come rushing around the corner and had nearly run him over. Thankfully he had been able to partially get out of the way and so the car had only hit his legs. But even then he had fractured both his legs and the doctors weren't too optimistic with his prognosis because of her dad's age. He had turned 55 last year.

Nusrat sighed and tiptoed out the door. Her mother had probably returned late last night from the hospital and her sister had probably waited up for her. They were both fast asleep. No jumping into bed with them and waking them up this year, she thought. She slipped into the kitchen and began to prepare what she thought her mom would like to eat.

For the next half-hour or so Nusrat, made what she thought was the perfect breakfast. Her sister and mother got up to find a perfectly laid table with eggs, toast, jam and steaming tea. 'Good morning' said her mom sleepily looking at the table. Nusrat waited for them to say something more but instead they both made a beeline for the table. Slightly disappointed but not entirely surprised she turned away and started cleaning the kitchen.

'So, Nus what are your plans for New Years Eve?' asked Shehanah to her sister. 'New Year's Eve…? Oh I…' Nus was at a loss for words. She had failed to register that the New Year was only 2 days away. It hadn't occurred to her this year that there would be any celebration in her household what with her dad having been away for almost 4 months now. 'Nothing, I suppose. I have exams in a few weeks; no use doing anything now'

'Oh good, you reminded me. Your chemistry teacher told me to tell you that she has put some extra classes for you today seeing that you still haven't been able to cover some of the topics yet. You'd better get going if you don't want to be late.'

Nusrat couldn't believe her ears. Her mother was sending her to classes on her birthday? And she hadn't even wished her or given her a simple hug yet. She knew expensive gifts were out the question this year but…

Trying not to sulk, she turned around and strode to her room. So this was gratitude for making breakfast. She started packing her bag and wondered why her year was going to have such a wretched ending. First of all her grades had dropped because she had problems concentrating when things went wrong at home. Then the doctors said that maybe her father would take 6 whole months to recover and she hated seeing him in pain during the physiotherapy. And she thought it very unfair that her friends were so happy-go-lucky and could go there and here and have fun together without a care in the world when she had to stay home most of the time and take care of the household or study. It just wasn't fair…

It was almost eight when Nusrat returned home. She gave the rickshawallah her money and thought about how she'd like to just collapse into bed. She'd had a tiring day and she didn't think it was about to get any better when she heard her mother's raucous complaints, as she usually did nowadays. She opened the door with her keys and tried to slip in quietly so that she wouldn't disturb anyone. Suddenly the lights all flared on instantaneously, like they were waiting for a cue, and people jumped up from all possible places.

'Happy Birthday!!!' Nusrat couldn't believe her eyes. On the table was a gorgeous vanilla cake with iced sugar roses, accompanied by the most scrumptious dishes she had ever seen, all her favourites. And surrounding the table were her most close family and friends who were all beaming at her. But what she couldn't believe was the sight of the person sitting in a wheelchair in the midst of it all…waiting…

'Dad!!' She screamed and nearly jumped into his outstretched arms. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry she asked 'I thought you couldn't be released at least in less than a month. What happened?' 'Oh I told the doctor and I needed to get well sooner so that I could go home and wish my little girl on her birthday' he replied smiling. 'And I've also heard how brave you've been and how you've been studying hard to make us proud.' Saying this he handed her mock paper results and kissed her. She had gotten A's in all of them.

And so while opening her multitude of presents; Nusrat thanked God for giving her such a wonderful Year End. The thing she had wanted most her father had come home and that was the greatest gift ever. And everything else had just fallen into place. She understood now how there always was a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to have the patience to see it through.

(Dedicated to my close friend who has also had a tough time this year. God only tests those He Loves. Have a great New Year)

By Nisma Elias

Book review

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

How many times have you wished you could spread your wings and just fly away? Flight has fascinated human beings for the longest time; Icarus spiralled to his death after a failed attempt at conquering the skies, and who knows how many people crashed and burned before two brothers finally got the Wright idea? (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

I know there are moments when I wished I could sprout wings and just let the wind take me where it willed. If you've ever felt the same way, or wondered the experience of flight was like for birds, here's a book that answers many of your questions.

The story is about Jonathan Livingston Seagull, one of many gulls belonging to Breakfast Flock, a particular gull colony. Every day, the Flock spends their time fighting for food. They fly over fishing boats and piers, and dive for scraps of food and bread. All, except Jonathan Seagull.

Jonathan Seagull, instead of fighting and screeching and diving like all the others, spends his time practicing to fly. He doesn't understand the practicality of such monotonous day-to-day activities. Rather, he attempts to perfect his flying abilities. Eventually he becomes the first gull to reach terminal velocity at 214 m.p.h. and this starts off a series of fascinating adventures.

The book is essentially about the dynamics of flight, and those interested in the subject will be able to relate it to what we know today about modern inventions like jet planes and stealth bombers and the like. The real message of the story, however, is to dare to dream, to reach for the sky and to keep trying no matter what obstacle comes in your way, because the glory is in the endeavour.
Jonathan, during his quest for knowledge, says, "How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there's a reason to live! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!"

This book is Richard Bach's fourth, and was published in 1970.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


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