Millennium Post

Indian steps, American way

Indian steps, American way
She is beautiful and she is American, but a quintessential Indian at heart and on her feet.

Gaura Prema, founder of the contemporary Indian fusion dance troupe Natya Nectar, which performed with Lady Gaga in India in 2011, says she is still ‘exploring new norms in modern Indian dance to suit her American personality and Indian upbringing to cater to the new cultural dialogue’.

‘I wanted to find my own language for years. I am an American but I have been brought up as a Hindu with The Ramayana, The Mahabharata and the Bhagawad Gita... Bharatanatyam and the kathak,’ Gaura said after a performance at the American Centre on 4 July.

Her 15-member multiracial international troupe brought the dance floor alive with a combination of acro-yoga [acrobatics and yoga], kalaripayattu, kathak, bharatanatyam, Mayurbanj chhau, hip-hop and ballet. The designer costumes — exotic and fashionable fusing Indian and Western traditional elements — added to the glamour.

Gaura has lived on and off in India as a child. ‘My mother has been in Vrindavan for the last 40 years. I have been raised in the Hare Krishna community as a Hindu,’ Gaura said.

Recalling her initiation into Indian dance, Gaura said: ‘When I was in the US as a toddler, my mother sent me to my VG Prakash in California to learn
. Later I learnt ballet in college in the US. I never enjoyed Western dance.’

Gaura says her dance was about Radha-Krishna and ‘chanelling her own energy through dance’. She began to learn kathak eight years ago.

‘I began with the Lucknow gharana and then switched to the Jaipur gharana because I like the fast chakkers of the Jaipur gharana,’ Gaura said.

In the last eight years, Gaura has evolved two new dance idioms — the acro-yoga and aerial silks. The acro-yoga is a fusion of acrobatics and yoga that uses acrobatics, gymnastics and yogic postures as a performance art, while aerial silks is a circus dance performed in midair — sometimes as high as 40 ft without harness, Gaura said.
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