Male students of Punjabi University flocked to attend the five-day Kathak workshop being conducted by internationally acclaimed Kathak dancer Vidha Lal (31), who had created a world record with her 103 spins in one minute, and was recently awarded with Kalpana Chawla excellence and Devdashi award.
Vidha Lal, who had performed at the London Olympics opening ceremony, said that the eagerness and passion for learning Indian classical dance forms is found more in western countries than in India.
While citing an experience from her international tour to Italy, Lal said, "While I was performing outdoors in Italy it started raining. However, no one from the audiences got up to run for cover. Rather they kept sitting throughout the performance braving the rain. In such a scenario in India , the viewers would have walked away."
"Indian artists get a lot of appreciation and respect abroad while in our country dance is yet not regarded as a much sought after profession," she said.
Known for breaking stereotypes, Lal said that her mother-in-law and teacher Gitanjali Lal, in order to build the interest of audiences in Kathak, had brought in innovation in her performances by staging the famous TV quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati through dance. Questions, answers and even options were all portrayed through dance movements.
She added that in India there has been a sudden drift towards western dance forms. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of the present classical dancers that whenever and wherever they get a stage to perform, they should win the audience's interest by performing classical dances rather than western.
Meanwhile, expressing her concern over the ignorance towards classical forms in India, she said, "It is unfortunate that the people in India do not know the difference between Kathak and Kathakali, though both the dance forms have taken birth here."
She added that Kathakali was a south Indian dance form that was performed to depict mythological stories, whereas Kathak was a northern dance form that was more technical and vast, for it depicted Urdu poetry and mythological stories.
Lal said the only way to revive the people's interest in Indian classical dance forms was by introducing it at the school level. "If classical dance is introduced as a subject in schools, with no extra fees being charged, children will acquire the knowledge about the dance form and also perform it with more passion."
Surprised by the turnout of the university male students, she said, "I never expected a large number of male students coming in to attend my workshop. In a state like Punjab where Bhangra is the most liked and enjoyed dance form, seeing male students come forward to learn classical dance is a matter of pride for me."