A Revisit to ‘Home’
14 June 2013
Divya Kasturi recounts her first time at the Classical Indian Dance forum at ISTD2 on 21st March
Walking out of London’s Old Street station, glancing at my phone to check the directions in Faculty Secretary Nina Rajarani’s email, the first familiar face that I bumped into at the crossing was a dancer friend with whom I had lost contact long ago. Well this was it! I suppose one of the first and foremost intentions of the forums is to bring us together for networking, to meet and greet, say a friendly hello, and acknowledge even unknown faces.
Following the recent re-naming of South Asian Dance to Classical Indian Dance within the ISTD, this was the first forum of the teachers. Getting together under an umbrella that is both familiar and new felt like almost a revisit to home. I use the word ‘home’ carefully because of the fact that previously under the larger umbrella it would have implied notions of an all-inclusive geographic landscape, but there are no such boundaries anymore!
At the same time, the forum was reminiscent of the relaxed comfort zone of a domestic home, with the calming yoga stretches, tea, coffee, lunch, practice-sari Bharatanatyam and of course lots of talking. It was a combination of encountering many known names, meeting new ones and connecting a face to a name.
It was my first time attending a Classical Indian Dance Teachers’ forum with the ISTD and I found it to be an enlightening experience. We started with a brief introduction of the examination formats and the background behind its development with Faculty Chair, Sujata Bannerjee. Then we were introduced to Liz Lark, a yoga and body conditioning expert, who gave us all an insight into safe body conditioning practices, especially for the younger learners.
Following the physical stretches, it was time to fill the vacuum generated in the body (more so, in the tummy!) with a sumptuous selection of sandwiches, drinks and of course, the unfailing dessert selection of chocolates to pep up the sugar level of the dance fraternity gathered. At lunch we were also treated to Anita Srivastava’s talk about the CAT project. Getting back on track, it was time for a ‘skill sharing’ session led by Chitraleka Bolar and Nina Rajarani for Bharatanatyam teachers and by Sujata Banerjee for Kathak teachers.
As a new teacher, yet to start sending children for exams, I could imagine myself with a lot of questions in the future, hearing the queries and clarifications that erupted in the room. It was very interesting to listen to them and it only proved the fact that a lot of effort, debate and thought had gone into shaping the system into what it is today. Thank goodness that the current generation and future generation will have experienced predecessors to refer to. Last but not least, before bidding our adieus, we met with ISTD officials who elucidated on the larger picture of further teaching qualifications, patiently answering all our various questions about it. The camaraderie that began in the morning continued well into our group walk back through the streets of Old Street and into the rush hour tube crush; our voices fading and sinking with the chatter and rattle of the underground.
Divya Kasturi holds a Masters in South Asian Dance Studies. She is a professional Bharatanatyam performer/teacher and choreographer.