O-bhangra-ama

All I’m saying is that I’d like to have seen former first lady Barbara Bush get down to bhangra with village school girls. That is all I’m saying (h/t Sushil)!

The Obamas are in India doing some politico-shmolitico-ness this week, as we have been following here at Sepia Mutiny. Lesson of the day: never underestimate a good dance number to bond transnational alliances.

The whole country watched Michelle Obama shaking a leg to hit Bollywood number Rang De Basanti during her interaction with school kids in Mumbai on Saturday. Then again on Sunday, while celebrating Diwali with children from a school in south Mumbai, she broke into a jig to join kids performing a Konkani folk dance, even inspiring the US President to join her on the dance floor. [ndtv]

I wonder if this may at all change the script to the upcoming “Obama” Bollywood movie, “Phas Gaye Re Obama” (“Obama is in a Fix”). It’s about Obama-loving Indian gangsters struggling amid the economic recession. How can they not have a Michelle Obama inspired dance number now? Continue reading

The Guild Goes Bollywood with “Game On”

I am not a gamer. Never have been, never will be. But my little sister was able to convince me to watch a few episodes of The Guild with her back in ’07, when the web series first came out. The show centers around a group of hardcore gamers who finally meet in real life after one of the members of their online guild, Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) unexpectedly disappears online. Created by real-life gamer, Felicia Day, the show highlights all the awkwardness that results when people who are more comfortable in front of a computer screen than face-to-face with another person – attempt to form offline relationships.

Last summer, instead of their regular web episode, fans of The Guild were delighted to see a music video, “Do You Want to Date My (Avatar).” This summer, The Guild is back with another music video, “Game On.” Cue Zaboo and Codex (Day) sitting on a bed. Hint: Bollywood-themed dancing results. Enjoy! Continue reading

Denver, Show Me Your Jalwa!

Yes, Denver has jalwa. Hey, we’ve even got the original Dhak Dhak girl in our midst! (And yes, I know some of you are Bollywood haters. Go wreak havoc on another post, ok?) When I moved to Colorado a few years ago, I was amazed to discover that I could watch many Bollywood films on opening night. There’s tea and samosas at the concession, and hoots from the girls whenever Salman takes off his shirt. They hoot. I cringe. If he had better moves, he would refrain from such tasteless exhibitionism.

And that’s where Renu Kansal comes to the rescue.

Bollywood West.jpg

Old-timers may recognize her from her previous avatar, but over the last three years, Renu has enrolled over 630 students at her studio, Bollywood West, and now serves as the semi-official Bollywood ambassador of Colorado. Continue reading

Gassy? Bloated? Fatigued? YOU may be suffering from PSSD!

Mutineers, have you been the victim…of strange assumptions and blatant stupidity?

Are you confused? Uneasy? Constipated?

You may be suffering from PSSD. Post-Slumdog Stress Disorder is a very real ailment, with devastating consequences for its sufferers. Victims of PSSD often, on a daily, if not hourly basis, endure flashes of rage, manic ranting, rocking back and forth while twitching slightly in the corner, and a smug proclivity to email links to anti-”Slumdog Millionaire” news stories with the subject line: “HA! Look who agrees with me! LOOK!!”.

If you have been accosted by allegedly well-meaning but clearly oblivious, pink cylons who initiate insensitive conversations about this movie with you, DO SOMETHING. Instead of being harmed by that dangerous trauma trigger, show them this educational video, so that they leave you the fuck alone, then you can go back to being bitter about not going to medical or law school, in peace.


Link courtesy of old skool mutineer Sexy_Gulti_Ho. And yes, that’s his screen name. Continue reading

So You Think You Can Dance? –> Bollywood

Via a tip on our News Tab (thanks, Tanvishah), the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance?” recently had a Bollywood sequence, brilliantly choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan. It’s worth a peek:

What do you think? I think Katee and Joshua rock. The first judge made an interesting comment along the lines of “You know, it’s funny how much this ‘Indian cultural dance’ resembles other dance cultures. When they do this [moves his arms], it’s like hip hop. And that thing with the knees, it’s like Russian dance.” What he didn’t realize is that Hindi film choreographers have been happily ripping off other cultures’ dance forms for decades! Continue reading

Tagore as dance music, ‘round the world

By now, almost all of you will have seen the video below, the third in a series where Matt Harding does a peculiar little jig in 69 scenic locations around the world. It’s one of the web’s most popular videos and for good reason; it’s both incredibly catchy and deeply moving. One friend I sent this to burst out crying, another decided to plan a 3 week trip to Latin America as a result.

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

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p>What you probably didn’t know is that the music being played is a poem by Tagore, set to music by Garry Schyman, and sung in sung in Bengali by 17 year old Palbasha Siddique (originally from Bangladesh, now living in MN). The music is a key part of the appeal of the videos, tying together the vignettes as neatly as the visual editing does. This is funny because the music was applied after the fact; at the time Matt was just dancing to the snapping of his own fingers.

The music has catapulted Siddique, who is still a senior in high school, into the spotlight:

At the moment, she is one of the most heard singers in the world…”It’s crazy,” said Siddique, who lives in Northeast Minneapolis with her mother and brother. “Right now it’s number one on amazon.com in the soundtrack [category], and number six overall, so that’s a really big accomplishment, because even ‘American Idol’ is number nine right now. I just never knew this would turn out so incredible. People are making ring tones out of it. Everyone on Facebook is adding me, and I had no idea there are so many Bengalis in our community, and they have all heard the song…” [Link]

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What signature did for an encore

A month ago, Amardeep blogged about Suleman Mirza and Madhu Singh’s audition for Britain’s got talent (it’s the second video in case you missed it before). The challenge thrown down by Simon Cowell was whether they could repeat their original success or whether they were a one-trick pony. Well, here’s what they did for an encore [HT Manish, skip forward to around 2 minutes in to see the act]:

Two things struck me about their performance. The first is how easily it was accepted by both the audience and the judges, something that would never happen in the US. The audience loved both the Michael Jackson impersonation and the Bhangra. The judges loved it as a dance act, they didn’t condescend to it at all. Heck, they even describe the dancers as typical brits with a day job and a dream. There was no talk about it being exotic or foreign, and no PC admiration for the multicultiness of it all.

The second is that it was weaker than their original performance. I thought the choreography wasn’t as tight, and the integration of the two styles was not done as well. The problem is that neither seems to have great range as a dancer. Suleman is a Michael Jackson impersonator and Madhu is a bhangra dancer. Once the shock of seeing the two together wears off, how far can they go?

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Dancing in the Family

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He is tall, slim, and strikingly long limbed. Dressed in jewel-colored silk tunics and antique ornaments that are family heirlooms, he looks more like a handsome young maharaja than a traditional South Indian dancer. Newsweek

Yes, I know, vomit, it sounds like more exoticizing pablum from a mainstream media source. But getting past the opening drivel, this article (posted in the news tab, thanks Brij01!) turned out to be about a rather fascinating family:

Aniruddha Knight is the ninth generation heir of a 200-year-old family of professional dancers and musicians from Chennai, India. He is also half American. His father, Douglas Knight, married into this artistically rich family when he studied classical drumming on a South Indian mridangam at Wesleyan University, where Aniruddha’s late grandmother–T. Balasaraswati, India’s prima danseuse–and her two musician brothers had taught since 1962.

Aniruddha followed his mother and grandmother, continuing the family’s bharatanatyam tradition:

Knight is fluent in Tamil, his mother’s language, and spends half a year in India, performing and learning from aunts and cousins who had worked with his mother. He has established a school and an archive of family history in Chennai. (The Smithsonian boasts an archive of Bala’s performances, too.) It houses all the records of his grandmother’s performances.

About his mixed parentage:

“It’s isolating to identify with two cultures, it creates a split personality. I can never be just one or the other, it’s a heartwrenching lonely process. But then, what I have, many don’t have.”

Those against mixed marriages often cite fear of waning traditions, culture, language, etc., as a reason to date within one’s own ethnic community. So it’s heartwarming to see this family’s artistic legacy continuing on, and even thriving, under the stewardship of its youngest, half-desi member. But do other half-desis feel the same sense of loneliness and isolation? Continue reading

Nrityagram: Hoping to Swoon at Such Stylings [UPDATE]

nrityagram_2webb.jpg As somewhat of a Bharatanatyam supremacist, I often fail to appreciate the grace, economy of movement and a whole host of other subtleties that dancers of Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali and Kuchipudi display in such abundance. It’s also been far too long since I’ve seen a live dance performance. Well, the wait for dance-starved patrons/critics/dancers is over (at least in my neck of the woods.) The very renowned Nrityagram dance ensemble is currently touring the US.

The troupe recently performed at the Joyce Theater in New York (encores performances to follow), which earned yet another mildly positive yet utterly clueless review from the Grey Lady (which I will dissect later), and will continue on to the following locations: Feb 19-24, 2008 – The Joyce Theater , NYC

Feb 29, 2008 – World on Stage, Stamford , CT

Mar 2, 2008 – UNC Chapel Hill , NC

Mar 3-5, 2008 – Modlin Center for the Arts, VA (I’ll be at the performance on the 5th)

Mar 6-9, 2008: Arts and Culture Center of Hollywood , FL

Mar 13-14, 2008: The Florida Theater, Jacksonville , FL

Mar 21, 2008: Savannah Music Festival, Savannah , GA

Mar 29, 2008: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Santa Fe , NM

Apr 1-4, 2008: UCSB, Santa Barbara , CA

Apr 13, 2008: Stony Brook University , NY Continue reading

Until I saw this, I had no idea …

…that there was a right and a wrong place to do Bhangra.

According to the Berkeley Bhangra team, there actually are some places one should not do Bhangra [via Manish in response to Vinod, below]:

As well as some places where one should do Bhangra (anywhere anytime at Cal) [via Vinod]:

No wonder people looked at me funny when I busted out my best dance moves at TraderJoes …

Related posts: I’m not afraid of Elvis, Old folk can still dance, and many others

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