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Punjabi youth learning classical and salsa dance forms

     Chandigarh/Ludhiana: Punjab is known for its Bhangra and Gidda dance forms. But, now youth are showing interest in learning Southern Indian classical dance forms and even the Salsa from the west. Bharatnatyam, the South Indian classical dance, is a blend of expressions, melody and rhythm. Its distinctiveness fascinated girls in Abohar in district Fazilka and made them take dancing lessons. Over 20 girls are being trained by Ancy Shaji, a dance teacher from Kerala, who has been living in Punjab for over 15 years. "A number of students these days learn western dances, but if you are a good classical dancer, people will notice you and remember your performance. Classical dance is difficult and different and so people like it and appreciate it. So I think that everybody should learn classical dances," said Falak Naaz, a trainee. The most ancient among all the Indian classical dances, Bharatnatyam follows the principles of 'Natya Shastra', which is considered the Bible of Indian classical dance. Ashdeep Kaur, another trainee said, "No one does Bhangra or Gidda better than the Punjabis. Besides that we wanted to learn different dance forms of other states also. I go everyday to learn classical dance of South. This dance adds a rhythm to our life and helps in maintaining discipline and self-control." Salsa is another craze that has the Punjabi youth firmly in its grip. At Sangita Studio of Performing Arts in Ludhiana , enthusiasts recently attended a workshop by world salsa champion Alex D'Iaz from Latin America . His unique style of dancing includes a blend of traditional Salsa/Mambo with flamenco, jazz and modern elements. Extremely touched by the warm and overwhelming response, Alex found it amazing that Latin American dances have caught the fancy of the people in India . He took some time out from teaching to learn a few Bhangra steps. "It's just a matter of getting used to different styles of music because Salsa doesn't sound like anything that you may have heard here before in Punjab. But as they get accustomed to that the steps come pretty natural to them because they are used to dancing already. So in that sense I think India can be a really big successful when it comes to Salsa," said Alex D'Iaz. Alex D'Iaz is a first generation Cuban-American. And his style of teaching focuses on proper technique, body movement and musical timing.
-July 8, 2009

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