When I first came to Tokyo I admit I was only thinking about living somewhere exciting. I wanted to be able to go party until the wee hours if I wanted to, visit strange theme bars and clubs, have a higher salary job, etc. I never really thought about how incredibly convenient and metropolitan the city is, and how I could benefit from it.
I'm thankful for the variety of cultures represented here. Having dozens of different embassies, cultural events and schools is so wonderful. If it weren't for Tokyo, I probably wouldn't have the chance to learn Kathak. I certainly wouldn't have learned it sitting back in my hometown! How many other places outside India can I learn an authentic nothern Indian dance?
Below is the video for one of my fave dances with Gopi Krishna (best male Kathak dancer!!!). The movie is Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje. The day I got it in the mail I was beyond happy! The singing takes some getting used to for people who aren't used to it. Watch the fast footwork. Amazing!
Today was my first lesson (finally!). My teacher learned from one of the great dancers in India, Guru Birju Maharaj (he did the choreography for Devdas!!!), and I was excited to learn the Lucknow style. Happily, she is as kind and patient as she is graceful; because I can't dance. I think it was well established today that not only can I not dance, but my body isn't that flexible either. My teacher and the other student present were bending into contortions I could only dream of while I sweated and strained to make it even halfway. I need a lot of work!
We started with a lot of warm up stretches (painful ones) and then moved on to Tatkar, the basic footwork of Kathak dance. I didn't have much trouble keeping the rhythm because of all the years I spent learning music (and tapping my foot to the beat). Since I was so good at this, I thought I was IT. This lasted about 5 minutes, until my teacher said "Okay, let's start working in the arm movements!" From there is was all downhill. I cannot keep my arms and legs moving separately for long. Sooner or later (usually sooner) my arm movements will stop or I"ll lose the beat with my feet. I felt like a total idiot. I still can't get the overhead circular movement down.
My teacher was ever encouraging and said I could probably advance to the next level class (I'm in the beginner, beginner class) in a few weeks or so. I'm content to stay in a low level class until I know what I'm doing. I can see that it's going to take a LOT of work to get even the basics down pat.
I can't wait for my next lesson because we'll be doing more chakkars (I suck suck suck at spinning)!
My cool new ghungroos!