DANCE: Classical Indian dancer from Vancouver, 18, joins world’s best at Gait to the Spirit

Published: October 24, 2012

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVERDESI.COM

Malavika Santhosh is one of Vancouver’s up and coming classical Indian dancers — and she’s only 18 years old.

Dancing since the age of six, she’s performed across Vancouver, including at the Vancouver International Film Festival and Vancouver Celebrates Diwali.

This weekend she’ll be performing alongside her favourite and idolized dancers — who she’s only ever seen on YouTube — at Mandala Arts & Culture’s third annual dance festival Gait to the Spirit. The festival is a celebration of the classical dance of India, with performances, master classes and workshops from renowned international artists from the U.K., U.S., India, and of course Vancouver, with Santhosh.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for me to perform in front of the other amazing guests we have who are professional dancers from around the world,” she told Vancouverdesi.com as she set up to rehearse at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. “To see them live is just amazing.”

Dressed in her vibrant full costume and make-up, Santhosh’s performance is mesmerizing: the music, fluid movements, stomping feet and porcelain doll appearance isn’t something you see everyday.

But from Oct. 26-29, the Scotiabank Dance Centre will be bursting with the art form.

Malavika is a local dancer who will be performing at Gait to the Spirit, a classical Indian dance festival. Gerry Kahrmann/PNG

“A lot of audiences like to see it in its authenticity, with the bells, the makeup — because it is so unique,” said Mandala Arts & Culture artistic director Jai Govinda. “For those who have seen contemporary dance: We get tired of seeing the black little dress, the black little boots,”

“There is no really set up or platform to present Indian classical dance (in Vancouver), so the festival offers a nice format where you can see two or three artists … the best in the respective dance forms and you see them the way it’s supposed to be presented.”

Govinda has performed Indian classical dance for the past 30 years and has been putting on the festival since 2010.

“There is a need to present young classical Indian dancers,” he said. “There are young students training all over the world in the classical dance form.”

Twelve studios exist in Vancouver with about 100 across Canada.

“The general public are not aware of all this vibrancy of Indian classical dance on the planet,” Govinda said.

Govinda tries to bring the best artists from around the world for the festival and they’re each performing different styles of classical Indian dance. The many forms come from thousand-year-old traditions, deeply rooted in temples as a form of worship — but it’s since been (rightfully) moved to the stage.

“People think the classical dance forms are stale and we do what people were doing 2,000 years ago,” said Govinda. “(But) there’s new repertoire, new music, new ways of using the stage, new ways of fusing lighting, of using new poetry — new concepts.”

And he believes Vancouver is the perfect place to present it.

“A lot of people are well travelled who like world culture of music and dance, so this festival has a big appeal for them — they don’t regularly get a chance to see it,” he said. “We did the festival to seal that gap.”

And if you aren’t a traveller, “you can come by curiosity but discover something that is so deep and beautiful.”

It’s also a great opportunity for Govinda’s 50 dance students, “to see how it is done on stage by some of the best in the field.”

“Very few of them have time to go and travel and go see performances outside of B.C., so I bring them here,” he said.

Odissi dancer Shalini Patnaik lives in San Diego but was formally trained in Orissa, India. She’ll be performing her classical style Friday night.

“(Odissi) hasn’t gotten as much exposure as other Indian classical dance forms,” Patnaik said from her San Diego home, adding that the style nearly died out under British rule in the second century.

“It’s very rounded, it’s very fluid, very graceful. The body movements and arm movements are not very sharp,” she said. “Which is one of the things that sets odissi apart from the other Indian classical dance forms,”

“It still has all Indian classical styles: we do intense footwork, dance barefoot with bells.”

Patnaik’s parents are from Orissa, so she and her sisters were raised learning the unique style.

“That’s literally like my cultural heritage, that’s my art and I feel an inate connection to it and a responsibility to carry on this tradition and carry it on well and strong so that it’s alive and for generations to come,” she said. “It’s not something that we see in North America too often, so it’s great to see a city that’s presenting Indian classical art and it’s such a rich tradition and it’s so beautiful I think people really enjoy it if they have the opportunity to be exposed to it.”

Classical dancer from Delhi, India, Savitha Sastry, will perform the better known classical Indian dance, bharata natyam, Saturday night.

The style is very fast paced with rhythmic movements, rooted in temples and religion, but “over time it’s undergone several years of sophistication and refinement … that is now exceedingly popular world over,” said Sastry. “As much as (the dances) were religious, I think there was also the entertainment value and that has outlasted in some ways the religious connect.”

For Santhosh, as a young aspiring dancer, she’s excited about working with these artists, but also excited to expose Vancouver to the many faces and styles of classical Indian dance she loves so much.

“A lot of people aren’t really aware of the different forms, they just know it as a classical Indian dance style,” she said. “So it’s a great opportunity for them to see professional people around the world.”


Malavika Santhosh


Picture 1 of 7

Malavika, a local dancer who will be performing at Gait to the Spirit, a classical Indian dance festival, runs through a dance routine at the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, Oct. 18, 2012. Gerry Kahrmann/PNG

Tags: ,





Featured

Surrey

Surrey RCMP continue hunt for hit-and-run driver who struck a Sikh temple volunteer

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY —  Surrey Mounties are still looking for the driver who ran down a Sikh temple volunteer in Newton last fall….
Continue Reading »

Merritt music festival

Headdresses banned from Merritt music festival out of respect to First Nations

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI An electronic music festival this B.C. Day long weekend in Merritt has banned native headdresses from its campgrounds. “Bass Coast Festival…
Continue Reading »

luxury brand market Vancouver

Asian tourists important for Vancouver’s high-end luxury retailers

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI If you ever wandered by a high-end luxury retail outlet like Burberry or Tiffany’s and wondered who could afford thousands of…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Surrey

Surrey RCMP continue hunt for hit-and-run driver who struck a Sikh temple volunteer

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY —  Surrey Mounties are still looking for the driver who ran down a Sikh temple volunteer in Newton last fall….
Continue Reading »

Merritt music festival

Headdresses banned from Merritt music festival out of respect to First Nations

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI An electronic music festival this B.C. Day long weekend in Merritt has banned native headdresses from its campgrounds. “Bass Coast Festival…
Continue Reading »

luxury brand market Vancouver

Asian tourists important for Vancouver’s high-end luxury retailers

SUSAN LAZARUK VANCOUVER DESI If you ever wandered by a high-end luxury retail outlet like Burberry or Tiffany’s and wondered who could afford thousands of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

india flag2

Sporting fans disappointed as Indian flag depicted upside down in Commonwealth Games promotional video

VANCOUVER DESI India is already making headlines as the Commonwealth Games officially kick off in Glasgow – but not for sporting-related reasons. In an official…
Continue Reading »

INDIA_RAPE_PROTEST_217126232

Angry villagers mob alleged suspects after another girl found hanging from tree in India

KOUSHIK DUTTA HINDUSTAN TIMES A 7-year-old girl was found raped, murdered and hanging from a tree in West Bengal on Thursday, resurfacing horrific memories from…
Continue Reading »

525020624_213567324

Indian baby whose head swelled to three times its size smiling and laughing a year later (w/ photos)

VANCOUVER DESI A three-year-old girl in New Delhi who was given little chance of survival after her head swelled to three times its normal size…
Continue Reading »

An Indian private tutor was caught on CCTV camera brutally beating a child. YouTube screenshot

Private tutor who mercilessly beat child finally arrested in Kolkata

IANS Kolkata  – Private tutor Pooja Singh, who was caught on video brutally thrashing a three-and-a-half-year-old child in Kolkata, was finally arrested Friday, police said….
Continue Reading »

child abuse

Indian kidnappers agree to handover boy to parents on condition of swapping him for his sister

CEN AGENCY In a bizarre demand, parents of an Indian boy who has been kidnapped, were told that they could have youngster back if they…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Mahesh Bhatt

Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt fasts during Ramadan as a tribute to his mother

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Mumbai – Mahesh Bhatt observes fasts during Ramadan as a tribute to his late mother and says on Eid he looks…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood Bigg Boss

Salman Khan’s charitable organization to help 100 kids with heart condition

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has announced that his Being Human (BH) charitable organization will help “100 genuine patients” suffering from heart condition…
Continue Reading »

Kareena Kapoor Khan

Kareena Kapoor: “Bajrangi Baijaan” has nothing to do with my personal life

IANS Mumbai – Kareena Kapoor and Salman Khan’s next “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” is about a Brahmin girl and Muslim boy, but the former says that it…
Continue Reading »