Dancing For Real

on Sunday, January 8, 2012

With the Masterchef India Season 2 drawing towards a finale, I was fearing that my weekends will now acquire a dull hue. Not to be. At the perfect moment was launched the third installment of Dance India Dance, indubitably India's finest and most loved dance reality show. Whether the simplistic original, the cute children's special or the recent doubles- I have followed each episode of all these three variations with frenzied devotion, much to the chagrin of my not-so-enthusiastic-about-dance family members.

Geeta 'Ma'
I carry a little spirit of a dancer in myself. I am not trained, neither very nimble on my feet, yet I can pull off Odissi and Bharatnatyam performances with deceptive ease if I stick to the basics. Learning ballet was a childhood dream, lost sight of in childhood itself. Folk was masti embodied in music, spilling over easily to flamboyant yet graceful dance movements. Dancing for me was like talking to the flowing wind, smiling at almost nothing, and a medium for expressing angst and resentment for things not fine in life. During school time, dancing was perhaps my only workout, the absence of which is my college years was visible in the pounds piling on around my tummy. Eschewing my attachment to each single distinctly remembered performance, I can safely claim that I was happiest when I performed a musical drama as a protagonist beleaguered by the conflict between inner and superficial beauty. My mentor combined elements of puppet dance, jazz and contemporary to create a performance which was lauded and remembered for days to come.
Remo D'Souza- "Gabbar"

Anyway. So today concluded the Mega Auditions of the show ruling my mind, DID Season 3, with the selection of top 18. These have been divided into teams of six to be mentored by three choreographers who are now cult figures- Geeta Kapoor, Terence Lewis and Remo D'Souza. While Geeta Kapoor, more famous as the often jested about sobriquet of Geeta 'Ma', claims all my predilection, it is Remo Ke Rangeele who seem poised to become the favorites once the Gala Round kickstarts on next weekend.

Terence 'stylish' Lewis
For those of us who ridicule dance as a long term career option or write it off as at best a hobby, the auditions of DID Seasons 3 provided some nice background stories to convince us towards a fresher perspective on dance. True, melodramatic flashes into the personal plights of contestants may be a put off when the competition is in full swing and the vote count critical. But during the audition stage, it is these documentaries shot about the personal lives of the contestants which add just enough zing to keep me glued to the television set even during repeat telecasts of the show.

The top five stories which I will try and remember from the auditions of DID Season 3.

1. Furkan- This is a story from the neighbourhood. Uttam Nagar's Furkan is an auto driver's son who earns a daily stipend of Rs. 70 by volunteering for trafiic management of haywire West Delhi roads. Since financial situations at home are bleak, it is from this stipend that Furkan manages to fulfill his needs, primary among which are videos he procures to learn dance. And when this boy comes on stage looking lost, nervous, unsure, but pulls of an astounding Robotics performance wittily choreographed to "Teri tirchhi nazar ne..", you are forced to sit up and take notice.

2. Raj- He comes from Ranchi, has no formal training, but different to most like him who lack a Guru, he does not even have the privilege of watching videos and aping them to train himself. He just has music, an enthusiastic heart which gives him a sense of rhythm, and a talented mind from which originate smart and hilariously entertaining choreography. He couldn't survive the tough DID competition, but upon being eliminated, all he sought was a chance to see his huge portrait decorating the background once to his heart's content. Him, I hope to see again in the next season.

3. Mohina- Or I should say Princess Mohina Singh of the Kingdom of Riva, Madhya Pradesh. One of the few happy stories from the auditions. My reading on royal women informs me of the added restrictions on their movement (and flight) for they carry on themselves the burden of royalty, with izzat and maryada as the ruling keywords. But this princess broke free, and with what charm! Besides her talent, what was heartwarming was to see her father in the background, informing the audience of their traditions, yet standing behind his daughter as she set out to pursue her passion.

4. Pradeep Gurung- When this lad from Guwahati performed an air cartwheel with stylish ease, I stared at the television set in disbelief. He runs a successful dance school back home, but his insistence on making a career out of dance won him disfavor with his mother. He had to move out, has not met his mother in years, misses her, but knows in his heart that if he is able to attain success while following his passion, it is his mother who would be the happiest and proudest of him. His audition performance was dedicated to his mother. Touching. Amazing.

5. Neerav- He was Terence Lewis' assistant in the first two seasons of DID. He participated in this year's auditions without informing his mentor to whom apparently he is really attached. He had wanted to participate earlier, but being the bread winner for his family, continuing with a stable income had been an unspoken mandate on him. This season he felt he was at ease, but some awkward, surprise filled glimpses from his stunned mentor were enough to lead to copious tear showers on the set. His dance was just about okay, but his story, quite compelling.

Pradeep and Mohina are the only ones who have made it to the final leg of the show. I have picked my favorites, but am waiting for the curtain raiser of the gala round to be sure of people I will be rooting for. Until then, I'll keep irritating my folks with this revived penchant for dancing.