Muvva-Nritya Raaga Nigamam founder Dr. Hima Bindu Kanoj agrees that since the time of COVID 19, life has completely changed and is tough. “Adapting to the new scenario, online has come into teaching, performance and research of dance. Online platforms have been very encouraging,” she says. At the same time to be different, and have a personal connect with the dancers and understand the hard work, dedication and passion, Muvva-Nritya Raaga Nigamam launched a platform called Parichay – An Introduction, where the artist talks about himself/herself.
Speaking to Natayahasini in depth about the Parichay series, Dr. Hima Bindu says that they decided to keep the video short, but at the same time showcase talent. “This was to encourage the viewers to have a complete look at the dancer’s journey and also watch the performance. Long duration videos are mostly avoided by the viewers for constraints of time, monotony and also screen time, hence we wanted to keep it short and sweet,” she says. The Kuchipudi exponent says that they are really glad that they are in the third week of the series, and could connect with a number of dancers and receive their video clips. “This itself shows that we have all the dots which need to be connected to form a beautiful chain of dance, and I hope Parichay fulfils it,” she says.
Selection Criteria: Revealing the criteria of selection, the Muvva founder says that dance is initiated at a young age, but the passion for it arises when the dancer is in her teens and he /she slowly understands to love hard work and the discipline behind it and starts focussing on creating an identity as a dancer. “It is also very impressing to see these youngsters talk about their love for dance which in turn would inspire their juniors to follow them, hence we chose the age criteria of above 18.” She further adds that the videos are shortlisted mainly on the basis of quality of performance and the music. “However, we are not particular about the makeup and the costume and things would do even if it is in a practise costume, as the dancer is not on a stage and just as the natural surroundings, he or she does it, the dancer too looks simple, yet elegant,” Hima Bindu states, quickly adding that they are planning new series for other ages too very soon.
According to the Kuchipudi exponent, there is a team at Muvva which takes care of whether all the requisites of the series are in order and constantly interact with the artists for the same. “The best part of this is the entire team of Muvva are dancers and my senior students and hence they do understand what all goes into a performance and try to help the artists in the best way possible. It is definitely a learning process for them wherein they watch the dancer’s performance and learn the good things of it and also do other works of editing and compiling the entire performance into a single featured video which teaches them the virtual backstage preparations for a performance,” says Hima Bindu.
Hastabhinaya series, tribute to M Sambasiva: On the launch of the Hastabhinaya series, Muvva founder credits the inspiration behind this to her mentor who always believed in her and her work, Late Shri Munukuntla Sambasiva. “Unfortunately, we lost him to COVID and that has left me with a great irreplaceable void in my life. But I have known his passion and love for Hastabhinaya in dance and all his books speak volumes about this topic. He always wanted the students to be aware of this beautiful language of communication and never missed a chance to teach a student the same. Hence, I thought this would be a small and a humble tribute to him if I could teach the students, not only the name of the hasta, but the definition and also in which context is the hasta used,” shares the dancer.
She further says that by making the students’ themselves do it, it motivates them to learn a different language of communication, know the hastas and also understand their usage in dance during their training. Hence, I came up with this idea and every week, a student is showcased demonstrating the hasta, definition and certain usages. We have decided to continue the series till we are successful in creating the interest in the learners, those who watch it too, especially children so that they can relate to it while they learn dance,” Hima Bindu says.
Level-based teaching: Speaking about online classes, the Muvva founder says that frankly, she could not really connect herself with online classes in the beginning. “I did not want it to be a class for the namesake and be taught within the constraints of a laptop. Hence me and my team came up with level-based teaching wherein there is loads of learning and fun too. In these levels, we have different batches for different students and each level has a different instructor as in the regular school. We make the students do warm up exercises which improve flexibility, teach them theory with demonstration along with the practical classes,” she says. Hima Bindu adds that they also have a class wherein the students are told stories from Indian puranas, and epics and connecting them not only to dance but with the ethics, morals and discipline of life. “This has been received very well as the students open to a world of our culture, puranas and stories which are actually lost and forgotten to this generation kids. We are trying to reconnect them with the history and culture of our arts and heritage through this session. On the whole, I must admit that although we miss offline classes, yet we are able to keep all the students connected and looking forward to dance classes of Muvva,” shares the Kuchipudi dancer.
On a parting note, Hima Bindu says “We all have been going through a tough time, but still, we should not lose hope for the future and keep going, no matter slow. Have faith, help each other and spread the love of life to all. As for me and my team, we are doing it as dancers spreading its beauty as much as we can.”