The Warli tribe isn’t just about its paintings, a point brought home at the Celebrate Bandra Festival, in partnership with the Hindustan Times, when Ramesh Hengadi’s Tribal Dance Group performed traditional dance numbers like the tarpa and gavri.
“Dance is part of our daily lives and each one has his own rhythms and way of performing,” said Hengadi, the organiser of the Dahanu-based troupe that has been performing for the last 15 years. Bandra Reclamation Promenade reverberated with the beats of the dholak as the Warli performers unselfconsciously displayed their traditional form to the audience.
The folk flag was kept flying high when Rohinton Vachha’s troupe performed the, giddha, yakshagana and chaibagau. The giddha, a Punjabi folk form was easily the crowd favourite as the pink and green salwar clad girls brought alive the spirit of feisty Punjabi women on stage.
The Rajasthani segment combined four different dance segments and was essayed with the same verve that the all-girl troupe brought to the giddha.
“It is important to keep our traditions alive,” said creative director Kiran Vachha. “Especially such undocumented traditions that are passed down from generation to generation.”
The yakshagana, a form of dance practised by the Bunt community of Karnataka, also had its moment in the spotlight. Derived from the legend of the demon Bhasmasura, the performance told the story of Vishnu’s disguise as a female dancer who charms the demon into mistakenly taking his own life. But for the jarring English commentary, the act was a refreshing break from the routine of classical dance that we are regularly exposed to.
“They’ve done a great job,” said Ruchika Kapoor, a Bandra resident. Perched beside the sea, the audience laughed and clapped the artistes on.
Part of the charm of folk dances lies in the lack of pretension — you don’t have to understand them to appreciate them.
“Folk culture is of the people and by the peopl e,” said Vachha, whose organisation has been training youngsters in dance and theatre since 1975.