Following the enthusiasm for our first episode of Seni Cilik, Episode No. 2 spotlights two young bharatanatyam dancers, who share some of the intricacies and joys of practising the ancient Indian dance form.
By SOFIA AMANEE
A legacy passed down through generations, bharatanatyam originated in Tamil Nadu, South India, and is well known for its elegant, graceful and pure dance moves. From New Delhi to London, the over 2,000-year-old classical Indian dance has over the years transfixed many and earned a huge following the world over. It is also widely practiced in Malaysia, including icons like Gopal Shetty and VK Sivadas. who helped to lay a path for bharatanatyam to blossom in Malaysia alongside countless other prominent artists.
Many of these dancers began learning the dance form at a very young age, just like the two young bharatanatyam classmates in BASKL Seni Cilik Episode 2, 11-year-old Kaveri Shreya Harinii Ramesh and 10-year-old Nivisha Shania Ruben. In this episode we learn about the girls’ love for the classical dance form.
Harinii and Nivisha take lessons at Kalpana Dance Theatre, based in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. The brainchild of Shangita Namasivayam, a Kalakshetra bharatanatyam graduate, it is one of many local dances schools that actively teaches and practises bharatanatyam, inspiring a long line of versatile artists and organising numerous productions that explore various nuances of the art form.
Bharatanatyam has more than 60 different and unique dance moves and is not a dance routine that can be learned and memorised in a short while. In fact, many highly skilled bharatanatyam dancers take years to learn and a tremendous amount of practice to perfect this dance routine that is filled with intricate footwork and a curious “language” conveyed by the dancer through eye, head and face movements.
In this video, Nivisha and Harinii will guide viewers through some basic steps and dance moves. The video also features some of their friends from the dance school, Thareqa Vadivale, Isha Lakshmi Min-Huei Iyer and Nandita Prashant.
It is obvious these kids have so much fun while dancing, but have also picked up several amazing traits such as discipline and confidence. And it’s as much for the teacher too!
Shangita says: “I’m doing what I love. How many have that privilege? I love teaching young children because they are spontaneous and original, and their innocence is extremely endearing. I love ‘no filters’!”
The Seni Cilik video starts with the dancers doing the “Namaskaram”, through which they seek Mother Earth’s blessings. It then continues with a collection of movements that are repeated in three different speeds, from slow to fast. Although at first sight it might look easy, the girls practise hard to get their moves synchronised and sharp.
Young and passionate
The cultural beauty of a country such as Malaysia is made up of many forms of heritage and legacies that have been passed down through generations and often travelled over many oceans. It is insightful to know that these children are not just being trained in steps, but nurtured with a lot of heart and soul, evident from their performances and interactions while dancing.
There is a Malay saying that goes “melentur buluh biarlah dari rebungnya” which means the best way to teach one is to start from young. Bharatanatyam classes are not just a way for these kids to learn about history and the arts, but also provide the firm foundation to build confidence, develop critical thinking and express themselves creatively.
Bubbly young Nivisha says she enjoys going for dance classes. “It helps me understand a little bit more about my Indian heritage and culture. It is a very beautiful form of expression and language.”
Harinii says that she practises at least three times a week. “It is not difficult because I love dancing!”, she enthuses, adding that her ambition is to be an engineer when she grows up. “But I’ll definitely continue to dance too!”
Did you enjoy watching this video? If you or your children tried some of these steps, or have some of your own steps to show us, do upload a video or picture and share it with us on social media. Don’t forget to tag @cendanamalaysia and include these hashtags #BASKLsenicilik #BASKL and #CENDANAMalaysia in your caption!
Then remember to put on your blue suede shoes and tune in for the next episode of Seni Cilik, on Nov 13, that will showcase Rock & Roll Music with Isaac!
Check out all our BASKL Seni Cilik episodes. Then, don’t forget to post your own artwork, too! Tag us at @cendanamalaysia and include the hashtags #BASKLSeniCilik #BASKL #CENDANAMalaysia in your caption.