On the 21st of April, Tiger Watch GC presented Chakra 2016, a showcase of two prominent Indian classical dances performed by experienced Indian classical dancers Antara Verma and Miraal Naseer from Grade 11. The event was a clear success, with at least 180 people attending.
Antara Verma delivered an impressive performance of Bharatanatyam, a two thousand year old classical dance form originating from Tamil Nadu in South India. On the other hand, Miraal performed the challenging dance form, Kathak, which originates from Kathakars, or storytellers, in North India. The most important elements that a Bharatanatyam dancer must master are expressions, gestures and poses, while Kathak focuses on intricate footwork and elegant hand gestures. Chakra successfully brought these very distinct dance forms together, creating cohesion between the two art forms, where balance and individuality coexisted.
The event had an overall emphasis on conservation. Not only of these two brilliant dance forms but also the tigers in Ranthambore, India. Tiger Watch GC supports the environmentally minded NGO Tiger Watch, located in Rajasthan, India. Tiger Watch works towards conserving and protecting wildlife in Ranthambore National Park through research, infrastructure, legal initiatives and alternative livelihood for the community that is involved in poaching. All funds raised from this event contribute directly towards buying camera traps to surveil the conservation area and help identify wildlife threats.
We had to opportunity to interview Antara and Miraal on their thoughts and feelings regarding the show.
Why did you choose the name “Chakra” for the show?
Antara: The word ‘chakra’ encompasses different centers of spiritual powers in the body. Chakra portrays the ability to be creative, inquisitive, enlightened, respect and empathise. Miraal and I both believed this related well to the objective of the show as well as what our dance forms convey.
What was the highlight of the whole process?
Antara: Definitely the dance we finished the show with, Mere Dholna. We worked extremely hard to combine the two dance forms in the most seamless way possible and were worried the audience wouldn’t react well to the piece. the crowd cheered almost the entire way through, and it was probably the most enjoyable dance I’ve done since I started performing.
Miraal: The highlight was definitely the moment we actually had an audience to dance in front of. For weeks we just had the mirror of Dance Studio 1 and that excitement only really kicked in when we had the chance to interact and connect with the audience.
Can you describe how you felt when you were dancing on stage?
Antara: It was my first time dancing in front of my friends and family friends, most of whom had never seen an Indian classical dance before. Chakra was a different performing experience than anything I had previously participated in. It was more than just the preciseness of a movement, or sitting in perfect Aramandi. I felt extremely proud to represent a part of my culture and myself that I had never had the chance to display before. There were the usual nerves and jitters that come along with every stage show, especially since it was my first solo performance, but I felt relieved, happy and thoroughly enjoyed every piece I performed.
Miraal: Slightly nervous at the beginning!! I’m so used to dancing in front of an audience I don’t know, which is in a way easier because you don’t really have to think about them, but because there was so much family and so many friends, there was a familiar atmosphere around me which made me nervous but also grateful.
Which of your dances was your favourite and why?
Miraal: Probably the last one with Antara and I, Mere Dholna. The pace and tempo of this song was in my opinion the perfect way to the end the performance and it had this little dance-off thing between the both of us which was fun.
Why did you choose dance as a medium to raise awareness and funds?
Antara: UWCSEA has never had a show which was purely Indian classical dance. Most people didn’t know what Bharatnatyam and Kathak were or had never watched a classical performance. I thought an Indian classical showcase would be something different, especially a solo one and especially since both dance forms are originated in India, relating to the GC.
Miraal: I think dance conveys so much emotion and connects with every individual differently, and so instead of raising awareness through just flyers and a stall event, being able to instill emotion in every individual is not only more effective, but also more meaningful, as it stays with you.
Any particular reason for choosing Tiger Watch GC?
Antara: I’ve been to Ranthambore numerous times over the past 16 years and always found the reserve to be beautiful. The people that work there are extremely committed and passionate about their jobs, and I always hoped to find a way to support their work. Plus, my dad, sister and I have always been animal lovers.