| A dance session on the Jyotirmai Club premises on Wednesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
The four to six-year-olds begin the boogie with enthusiastic concentration as part of their warm-up, after exercising their vocal chords with a loud “hi”. Their class follows that of the ‘adults’, which had mainly teens pumping away to Mohabbat and Don’t get loud.
“The little ones were quite tense on their first day,” smiles instructor Nazim Hussain, part of the Mumbai team of the Shiamak Davar’s Institute for Performing Arts (SDIPA). “But the moment I told them that the song they would be dancing to was Hrithik Roshan’s My Darling (Mujhse Dosti Karoge), they got very excited. They even sing along, as they know the number by heart.”
Keeping step to the beat in class are kathak teachers and Odissi dancers, Bharatanatyam students and western dance experts. Latin-style hip-shaking is what some prefer, while jamming with jazz is the way for others. The groups are a varied mix and the vibes are electric, according to Hussain. “It’s great to see housewives, professionals, teens and tweens, chatting away or practising side by side,” he adds.
“The Calcutta bunch, in fact, is more enthusiastic and energetic than what we have seen in Mumbai or Delhi,” observes Suragini Ravindran, another instructor. “We have workshops and regular classes in several cities, including Pune, Kanpur, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Chennai. And hopefully, this time, we will be able to continue in Calcutta, not just as summer workshops, but with round-the-year three-month courses. We were here for a short workshop two years ago, but with Jyotirmai Club as a partner, we should be able to manage a longer stint.”
Sixteen-year-old friends Khushboo, Sonika, Pallavi and Avni are home for the holidays from a boarding school in Mussourie. They are having “great fun”, and will “definitely be here again next year”, if the workshop is on. Prachi, who lives is Calcutta, insists that she will “stay put” with the institute if it offers a course next year, too.
The club responsible for getting the SDIPA to town this year, however, is cautious about the response. “We have enrolled about 450 participants divided into 14 groups, at three different venues,” says Pushpa Bangur, club president. “We had expected around 700 participants, but unfortunately the Higher Secondary exams and some college tests are on. If the students ask us to bring them back next year, we will.”
And there’s no doubting the demand or the delight of the students. Be it while choosing a song or getting their steps right for the gala show, determination is writ large on every face, young or old.
The Summer Funk Show, at Science City auditorium on April 20, looks set to be a hit, with so much excitement in the air, and friends and family already booking tickets.
“The show should be very good, because the Calcutta crowd is up to the challenge,” smiles Ravindran.
With the man himself due in town on April 19, some of the youngsters are “dying to meet him”. Davar will conduct the technical rehearsals on D-Day morning, and then perform the grand finale in the evening’s show.