The Ballet festival of India kicked off yesterday and will continue till tomorrow. Co-organiser Ashifa Sarkar Vasi told us more about it...
What was the thought behind doing the festival?
My partner Karene and I are both from serious ballet backgrounds and both of us have had the opportunity to study in the US. We were able to study it at a very serious level and really value it. So, we wanted to be able to bring something on a smaller scale to Mumbai. We’re doing it here as it’s our base, but there is the possibility of doing it in any part of the country. The idea is for people from across the world to come and learn. Also, it’s the first step towards building a ballet community. It’s a small world in India at the moment but it’s at the cusp of growth. So we really want to build, collaborate and learn from each other.
What are the activities taking place there?
There are three full days, and we start in the morning with classes, that have ballet technique and variations. The teachers will select the best students who will perform the third night. There is a seminar related to ballet every day and a separate one for teachers as well. We have events every evening, including a screening followed by a discussion, a panel conversation and networking night with guests panelists. There is a studio performance as well as the students performing what they have learnt over the three days.
There are not many avenues to learn this dance form here in India. How do you think that can be encouraged?
I started teaching ballet here in 2007, when it was unheard of. There were very few schools across the country that existed. My students had no idea what the word was, forget what it looked like. Now, people have heard of it and some have a visual idea of it. In the past five years or so, that has changed significantly, especially because of the dance reality shows. The performances in these shows have more western forms of dance. So now, people have a better understanding and awareness of what ballet is. Shakti Mohan, who is a celebrity dancer, will be attending the festival. We appreciate that somebody like her, understands the value of training. This platform gives her access to teachers of high calibre. Serious dancers take our platform seriously.
The festival is being held at Future School of Performing Arts, Santacruz (E)