Preeti Mane, 14, from a Worli chawl, had never heard of Odissi classical dance till Wednesday.
When she did, it was a set of performances by the internationally acclaimed Malaysian Odissi dancer Ramli Ibrahim and his Sutra Dance Theatre troupe, which conducted a dance workshop at Mane’s Dr Ambedkar Municipal School in Worli on Wednesday.
The workshop introduced Odissi and Bharatanatyam to more than 80 students, who have been adopted by Vidya, a non-profit organisation working towards educating underprivileged children.
“I learnt about different rasas in dance and would like to now take up Bharatanatyam,” said Mane.
Ibrahim, who has been associated with Vidya for two years and has conducted two fund-raising workshops at its Delhi chapter, is in Mumbai to perform at the National Centre for Performing Arts on Thursday. The proceeds from the sale of the concert tickets will be donated to Vidya.
“Children in India are not shy and pick up what you teach them very quickly,” said Ibrahim, who began his Bharatanatyam training in Malaysia in the 1970s.
He then “fell in love with Odissi” and mastered it by training in Orissa for several years.
“Malaysia is a multi-racial country and is influenced by Indian culture,” said Ibrahim, adding that he would love to start a long-term dance-training programme in India if given the opportunity.
Rashmi Misra, who founded Vidya in Delhi 26 years ago, believes that workshops in creative arts give underprivileged children a holistic education. “Dance teaches them discipline, values and the confidence to achieve anything they want,” said Misra.
In Delhi, Vidya runs a school for slum children where dance, music and other arts are a part of the curriculum.
In their Mumbai chapter, the organisation plans to identify meritorious students with a keen interest in dance and help them join professional classes.