KATHMANDU, July 31: Dance is essential to a healthy society and has the power to cut across caste, creed and cultural diversity. It can demonstrate the infinite possibilities for human expression and potential, and facilitate communication within and across cultures and generations.
‘Lyrical Dances’ was such an event which focused to develop lyrical choreography in Nepal and inspire and contribute to the value of dance as a powerful medium of communication.
Nritya Aagan, a dance school in Kathmandu, launched the lyrical dance project in July 2011 with support from Danida, Denmark’s development cooperation. The first step of the project was to select dance teachers and enthusiasts from various schools and have them participate in various workshops.
After an intense orientation program and pre-master classes, participants were selected for a Master class with Lokesh Bharadwaj, master in Bharat Natyam and contemporary dancer from India.
The finale of the year long project was then ‘Lyrical Dances’, which took place on July 20, 2012 at the Nepal Army Officers Club in Kathmandu.
Choreographers Swojan Raghubansi, Subima Shrestha, Saurabh Neupane, Sulochan Gopali, Deeya Maske, Beli Maya Ale Magar, Hem Raj Gajmer, Rohit Tamang (Kumar), Sushma Koirala, Shova Chand, Rajan Khatiwada, Jenisha Dangol flaunted their talent at the event and the young ones got to learn something new and exciting.
“Nritya Aagan is a strong believer in the arts as creative forms that express stories, feelings, and contexts relevant to the performers and their worlds. We aim to inspire young people to learn and appreciate different dance forms, maintain the integrity and essence of the forms and create a dance community well versed in different forms and principles,” said Subima Shrestha, Director at Nritya Aagan.
Sushma Koirala, 28, was involved with the project from the beginning. A dance teacher herself, she choreographed small scale dances but ‘Lyrical Dance’ was a whole different scenario for her.
“I actually went to participate as a dancer but after the workshops, I had the opportunity to learn more and I was given a chance to choreograph, which was a big thing for me,” she shared.
Koirala did not know about the ‘theme’ that one has to follow as a choreographer after listening to the music and lyrics, but now she says she has learned how to direct the dancers according to the tune and the theme of the song and if it suits them or not. “I think the project has helped me to a large extent and this will definitely help boost my career graph,” said she.
Lyrical dance emerged as a new art form after the cultural changes of the 1970s. Dancers wanted new ways to convey a wide range of human emotion through movement, rather than relying on the precision of classical ballet or the abstract quality of modern dance.
Lyrical dances show expression, mood and often tell a story. The interpretation of the music is left to the choreographer.
“The project aimed to develop lyrical choreography in Nepal and inspire choreographers and dance teachers to discover a more internal understanding of movement. Lyrical dance fused traditional, classical and modern dance techniques to create a contemporary dance style, known for its expressiveness and musicality,” said Shrijana Singh Yonjan, Event Coordinator of the project.
Sharing her experience, 20-year-old Jenisha Maharjan, one of the dancers, shared that she got to learn a lot from the event, which she had not expected.
“As a break-dancer, I dance mostly in English music and I don’t even listen to Nepali music much. Dancing to Nepali tunes with a mix of various classical forms of dancing, was an amazing experience,” she said, adding that she would further love to learn more classical dancing and also continue dancing to Nepali tunes.
The songs that were used during the show were all re-recorded. It was an attempt to conserve and promote classical musical compositions that are the musical heritage of Nepal.
“The search for songs from the early sixties through the mid seventies proved to be an eye opening experience for the choreographers that participated in a research activity to find songs suitable for performing during the ‘Lyrical Dances’ program,” said Renchin Yonjan, Cultural Consultant at the Embassy of Denmark in Nepal.
Through ‘Lyrical Dances’, the young minds did not only get a chance to learn about the various dancing styles but also got to connect to classical Nepali music besides getting to learn about choreographing and dancing to not just tunes, but lyrics.