Theatre & Chhau, Shalini’s Identity & Strength

Shraddha Shalini Malviya, who hails from Bhopal, has just finished her Masters in Performing Arts in Theatre Arts from University of Hyderabad (UoH) and wants to hold a Chhau and Acting workshop, before moving back to her hometown. Speaking to Natyahasini, Shalini admits that the two art forms – Theatre and Chhau dance are her strength and identity as an artist. Shalini started learning the Chhau dance from Chandra Madhav Barik in 2014-15 in Bhopal. “Basically, I am an actor and to improve as an actor need movements in my body. This was my initial idea, but later I fell in love with this dance form,” says the theatre dancer. 

The UoH student says that while learning under Guru Chandra Madhav Barik, she was part of the Kirti ballet and preforming arts. It must be noted that Chhau is a major dance tradition prevalent in the tribal belt of bordering areas of Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal. There are three distinct forms of Chhau – Seraikela Chhau of Jharkhand, Mayurbhanj Chhau of Orissa and Purulia Chhau of West Bengal. According to Shalini, Chhau dancers perform a repertoire that explores a variety of subjects from folklore to depicting episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. She admits that the music for Chhau is very energetic and sometimes masks and headgear are also used in this art form. 

During her stay at the University, Shalini has taken workshops for fellow students for production works. “My wish is to take as many workshops as possible to showcase the beauty of this dance form,” she says. The Bhopal resident after finishing her graduation in B.SC Electronic Media was selected in UoH for Masters. “Since my childhood, I have been into theatre and from 2014- 15 started learning Chhau as well as Indian ballet where all the dance forms like folk, classical and Chhau are used to practice according to production demand. After MPA, I want to do Ph. D. in Theatre, including Chhau as an actor.

Shalini firmly believes that Indian classical dances, don’t need any promotion as it is already rich and every Indian knows about this very well. “Only need to connect with people and for connection you need to change little as situation is changing,” she says. Revealing her future plans, Shalini says it is Ph. D., acting instructor, movement choreography, films and theatre. Recently, Shalini Malviya had taken part in the Parichay series of Muvva Nritya Raaga Nigamam.   

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