DANCER UPDATE: TALITHA IN INDIA
I first came to Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts in Bangalore, India in 2014. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding experiences of my life. I have been invited back several times and when I got my Co3 Schedule for 2017, I knew that the 2-month gap was the perfect opportunity to return and see how I faired the second time around. So I am here in Bangalore for two months (May/June) to teach Ballet and Contemporary Technique for the 1st and 2nd year diploma students at Attakkalari. I will also be leading several choreographic workshops during my stay for the local dance community and researching about dance opportunities and yoga centres in India.
Teaching so many incredibly beautiful dancers, many of whom have had little opportunity to learn about dance or become dance artists outside India is inspiring for me. They remind me that when you have a passion for something, you can go out and find it, grab it with both hands and devour it. They remind me that time is precious and learning is a gift. They remind me that I have incredible skills inside my body and mind, and I feel honored to be able to share it with them and refine my teaching practice at a professional level.
The students only have a basic understanding of Ballet, as it is rare to find classes here in India, so what I teach them is an introduction. I also tailor the class to demonstrate the differences between Bharatanataym and Ballet and use movement concepts that can be applied to ballet and contemporary technique. I decided that for the students to gain a better understanding of ballet in performance, I would teach the 1st year students a male and female variation from the ballet Coppelia and the 2nd year students a par de deux from Swan Lake. This is by far my favorite class as I get to see them grow in both understanding and performance.
My contemporary classes investigate floor bound movement, enabling the students to work with safe dance practice when jumping and rolling in and out of the floor. We work with how to use the body dynamically, moving with the centre, energy and counter-balancing forces. The exercises are basic but fast-paced so the students are challenged to organise themselves to complete tasks with mental and physical clarity.
On one of my first evenings in India I was reading some research about improving cognitive function and I came across this statement from Denise Park, a lead researcher at the University of Texas – “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something – it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially. When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.” I immediately felt this statement in many ways summed up my feelings about being to India.
I feel challenged daily. Inside all of these challenges, I am always learning. I learn about how lucky I am to have the opportunities I have and to be able to come here and have this experience.
I hope more dance professionals can find the time and make the journey to India to see the potential and beauty it has to offer.
With Love from Bangalore.