Nrityagram, a place where the dream of Protima Gauri, a renowned Odissi dancer, came into life. Her dream beautifully put to words by her as “I dream of building a community of dancers in a forsaken place amidst nature. A place where nothing exists, except dance. A place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine – dance. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. A place where dancers drop negative qualities such as jealousy, small-mindedness, greed and malice to embrace their colleagues as sisters and support each other in their journey towards becoming dancers of merit.” And her dream converted to reality in form of Nrityagram.
Nrityagram, the place where you breathe, eat, sleep, dream, talk, imagine – dance. A place where all the five senses can be refined to perfection. Photo from Flickr
Working on the principle of Gurukul (residential school in older times), at Nrityagram the guru is the institution and every student is taught dance under the able guidance of well experienced gurus. Other than dance,every member of Nrityagram indulges in learning mythology, music, poetry, Sanskrit and above all history and philosophy of dance.
This dance village is located in Hessarghatta, 30 Km from Bangalore and is spread across 10 acres. Designed and built by architect Gerard da Chunha, Nrityagram is built just as any other Indian village. And as serene as the surroundings the daily chores and the activities are as pious as the air around. Listen to the rhythmic beats of ghungroos, claps, wood beaten by sticks for dancers to connect to rhythm and even a vocal delight in the background and simply get swayed in the moment. Life at this Gurukul is simple. Tend the gardens, be in the dance class designate, by the evening simply unwind in the surroundings and settle in your bed after a sumptuous dinner.
It is a dream come true for all budding dancers to become part of the basic training for three years for getting trained in Bharatnatyam, Odissi and Kathak forms of dance. Only six dancers would be the lucky few as the number of students remain six. Other than this basic training there is an advanced training program for Odissi which is a free of cost program for dancers. The fee expected from the dancers for learning the best of the expressions is to just to contribute their best to the well being of Nrityagram as a whole which requires gardening and cleaning of the campus and daily work at the Gurukul.
A staunch believer of holistic living for all residents, Nrityagram offers a blend of sessions of body conditioning exercises, yoga and even informal talk on the dance forms. The students graduating are the best dancers and are ready to be the teachers for the future generation.
To experience the grandeur of the art related to classical form and the dances performed by the artists of Nrityagram it is best to be part of the spring festival, Vasantahabba every year during the first Saturday of February. Indeed a venture to keep everyone connected to the roots of classical form of expression under one roof named Nrityagram.