Hi, through my introduction, you guys know I am Rohan Raj, my people generally call me “Ro”. I am going to share a very special bit of my life with all of you today.
It all happened while I was walking. I was alone one day, had been to a movie then, and felt like a walk later. Walking through the roads of Bangalore, I reached a corner that opened doors to my past. Suddenly, an image interrupted my thoughts and thus my legs stopped moving. I could hear the good old laughter and a loud conversation.
I watched the conversation of past happen as if it were happening in real time. I could see all my old friends in this good old ‘Adda’. I called my friends and spoke to them for some time. Loneliness started playing its games with me, and I started thinking, analysing and comparing my life with that of my friends.
To myself, I said – ‘Ro, all your friends are working in big companies. What about you? What are you doing with yourself? Still dancing eh? Why can’t you join a big company and settle down with something?” I felt very bad about the feelings that occurred inside me and I started asking myself if I were in the wrong place, with the wrong job…
My feelings were mixed, all jumbled and there was a lot of happening in my head.
I had told my friends that I’d take up dance as a profession six years ago. Some had encouraged me; some had said, “No it is just not worth it, haven’t you’ve been doing the same thing for the last 8 years? Aren’t you bored?”
I wasn’t able to fathom my feelings towards dance, which probably was the best possible thing to have happened to me. I felt the need to revisit myself in the past and inspect things over again.
I had belonged to the genre of cinematic dance, having choreographed for the films, and other night shows, it did feel great to be in the lime light, I had had my share of fun, experience and entertainment, but yet I had felt stagnation seep in. Contemporary training and technique have been my answers and cure.
Cinematic and contemporary are related since they come under wider streams of dance, both draw from other dance forms and have niches carved for themselves, but like it is true, that no two movement arts are similar, my mind started analysing what each form contained. Comparing both I found these points.
Coaching and classes:
If anyone were to learn cinematic dance, every locality in Bangalore could have at least one class, while contemporary dance throughout India, would hardly have 200 major classes with 30 established companies. So the ratio is indeed quite comparable.
Training to be a professional:
Cinematic dance, one needs to attend classes, and undergo further training with well known choreographers. Then through auditions one gets into the movies for dancing, where outstanding performers are selected, these selections happen once in two years, and once one gets through the selection, one is required to shell out a million ( around a lakh in Indian rupees) to be a part of that association. It is a set pattern.
While learning and training in contemporary dance is not everyone’s cup of tea. The training involves sincere dedication and perseverance. One needs to be a maverick in one or more forms which complement ones’ style. So a movement background and training in certain contemporary techniques for a good number of years is essential before one actually starts performing on a mainstream level and every level involves a documented technique. Moreover, Indian contemporary dance beautifully blends into itself the rich culture of Indian dancing. Since every contemporary dance company takes its movement inspirations through several classical forms, every company has a unique style calling upon itself.
Music for the productions:
A cinematic production is quite monochromatic, for you are expected to dance and choreograph to a piece of music that has already been made and produced.
While the choreographer here, does have the liberty to be able to decide the music, that will parallel the performance, enhance the movements, set the right mood, add meaning and hold the definition of the piece.
Lights, Camera, Action are the starting and unending parts of Cinema and its choreography.
Working with an Indian contemporary dance company is so different an experience. Home productions, festivals, corporate comprise of the performing part. Classes and workshops make the teaching part of Contemporary dance. Research and administrative work is the part that helps build knowledge and strengthen theories of dance. Learning is never ending a process here.
A dance like contemporary has become a part of my life; it helps me explore my passion further. With training, I have become smarter with space, started pushing my limits, more creative and indeed testing of my spirit. If this is true, then it’s true that I am really lucky to be a where I am today. Nritarutya is a central part of my life and as a part of Nritarutya, I find opportunities to grow by teaching, learning, performing, researching and travelling across the world. All this while old habits die hard; I also take up a fun class with Nritarutya’s dancers’ sometimes as a fun thing.
Over the time I have become more patient and filled with ability to support myself and look at more possibilities to create meaning out of ideas. What I have gotten out of the both worlds of dance is invaluable. In my spirit and life I breathe dance and I can honestly believe and say, “Dance is my entire life.”