A Colombian’s poetic Chhau

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Published: March 27, 2016 12:03:11 AM

Carolina Prada is taking the ancient Indian dance form to the next level and to various places globally

CAROLINA PRADA’S traditional Mayurbhanj Chhau performance reminds one of the grace and beauty of temple sculptures, while its lyrical qualities are akin to a poem. Prada, who was born in Medellin, Colombia, is the only female soloist of this generation to research, choreograph and perform the traditional Mayurbhanj Chhau at the professional level. This Colombian is taking the ancient Indian dance form to the next level and to various places globally.

Armed with a deep knowledge of the ancient tradition and a keen desire to create and refine the art, Prada explores the classical potential of traditional Mayurbhanj Chhau by combining the hoary Tandava and Lasya, with martial vocabulary and abhinaya with the intention of broadening the method of expression and interpretation in this particular style.

She has performed in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Spain as a soloist and group artiste. In India, Prada, who is earning an important place for herself in both Odissi and Mayurbhanj Chhau, has been applauded for her uniqueness at the renowned Khajuraho, Konark and Kala Ghoda festivals, among others.

At a recent show at the Cambridge School in New Friends Colony, New Delhi, Prada stressed on the need to promote the Indian classical arts and pass on the love for them to the next generation. “One can only dance if one has God in his or her heart,” Prada said. “As global citizens, our children will need the ability to interpret and enjoy diverse cultures.  Having these skills leads to empathy and flexibility, which are critical soft skills,” said Anu Behl Roy, principal, Cambridge School.

“I don’t want to be a foreigner who looks like she is doing Chhau. My dream is to have my body move as the young boys in Mayurbhanj. If at one point, boys dress up as girls to play female roles, why can’t girls also portray male roles? Female or male, the most important thing is to bring dignity and purity to the dance by showcasing its beauty and richness. I feel the responsibility to work along with my gurus towards the evolution of the priceless dance forms, which should not be left at the level of only folk dances,” Prada added.

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