The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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12 days of sweat over Shah Rukh steps

Beat the heat in Boogie Woogie style. That’s the mantra some wannabe movers and shakers are chanting to make the most of their summer vacations.

In spacious apartment rooms in Kankurgachhi and Burrabazar, a bunch of students — from four-year-olds to college-goers — diligently try to emulate their dance instructors. They are learning to shake a leg like Shah Rukh Khan in Dil To Pagal Hai, or gyrate like Aishwarya Rai in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and blaze the school/college fest stage. Four hours at a stretch, and yet not a shade of fatigue on their faces, when the city swelters under the scorching sun.

Bunched into separate groups according to age, the kids dance to a wide variety of foot-tapping music, in a medley of Indian and western styles. “Pure classical dance is out of fashion and, besides, there is scarcely any time for the kids to undergo rigorous training. They and their parents would rather prefer a bit of everything — a dash of kathak, punched with some Shiamak Davar moves, along with ghumar, dandiya and bhangra that are now extremely chic,” explains Navneet Rathi, founder member of Vatika Kala Sangam, whose cultural wing Thirak is conducting the workshop.

The enterprising 25-year-old has revolted against his conservative business family to pursue his passion, performing in Shiamak Davar and Phalguni Pathak shows. Through the year, Rathi has his hands full, training around 153 youngsters at Thirak’s Salt Lake centre and choreographing events.

“We are teaching the basics of choreography, like rhythm, body movement, facial expression or the perfect shot for the camera. The 48-hour capsule we have chalked out is spread over 12 days and has squeezed in all the different moves that children will delight in,” says Rathi, who picked up the steps and styles mostly by watching other performers and TV shows. “I did not have any professional training as my parents did not approve of this career. But several guardians are now interested in watching their children dance to the tune of film music at shows.”

The camp has drawn participants from Alipore, Tollygunge, Ballygunge, Elgin Road, Burrabazar and Howrah. Around 110 students have enrolled and several enthusiastic ones drop by almost every day. “But admissions are closed as we are halfway through,” says Vineeta Rathi, an ISC pass-out who is assisting Rathi in the workshop along with another 19 youths.

The workshop now travels to Elgin Road and Howrah AC, before being wrapped up with a mega stage show at Science City.

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