Adaa: The Mysterious Essence of a Dancer

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my kathak training, or what I would be able to do with the art form once I started college. But, following the success of my Manch Pravesh and the immense encouragement from pioneers of the Indian Classical World in Singapore, I was so sure that kathak was something I needed to keep as an integral part of my life. However, I had an itch to add my own twist onto the platform that I was joining. In the spirit of being a pioneer of kathak in Singapore, and having the advantage of being a young “up and coming” artist, I wanted to experiment with including ideologies I picked up from my international schooling. So for the first time, the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society hosted a solo alumni performance where donations for a charity, Project SMILE, were collected instead of tickets.

The public could attend the show for free but I had a single request: if they enjoyed any part of my performance, to consider donating to the booth set up by Project SMILE. And with that, S$2,000 was raised for the support of women in challenging positions in Singapore. Experimenting with combining my kathak training with social awareness and charitable causes affirmed my desire to pursue both these important aspects of my upbringing in conjunction.

The term ‘Adaa’ was coined from a conversation I had with my Guru. Before my Manch Pravesh, he had told me not to learn steps from him, but to learn “adaa”, or style, from him. He said that movements could be learned from anywhere, but that adaa is what defined the dancer. This conversation stuck with me and to this day after each performance, I define my success by whether I was able to capture even a drop of the essence that I have observed by training under my Guru. In this show, I was able to combine my Guru’s adaa from my dance training with the adaa of my parents and their big emphasis on giving back to community and worthy causes.

‘Adaa: The Mysterious Essence of a Dancer’ was performed on 7th January, 2017 at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society.

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