(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dance is not merely bodily movements but a hidden language of the soul, which is why it has been celebrated since ancient eras. The Indian classical dances are one of the finest examples of being deeply rooted in its cultures, which is why an Indian expat has taken it upon herself to train a group of 17 girls in Odissi classical dance - the oldest surviving dance form from India.
A trained dancer, Dubai-based Indian expat Rashmi Rani Raj mentors girls aged five to 17 years to perform the Odissi dance, which she said is one of the eight acknowledged classical dance forms of India with an origin traced to the state of Odisha. She added that the dance also helps youngsters understand their culture, state and country better.
Rashmi and her troupe of young girls have performed at several cultural shows across the UAE such as Global Village, Indian consulate, Diwali festival celebration at Al Seef, Utsav (Utkal Divas Celebration by Odisha Samaj in UAE, Odisha Day celebration by Odia Society of UAE and even at the Odisha Cup Cricket finals in Ajman.
Talking about the importance of passing on these traditions to the younger generation, Rashmi said: "As my guru always said, Odissi and sacred arts, in general, can be compared with the great rivers like the Ganges. They have flown for ages absorbing and discarding in the process. There is invincible power in this great tradition to flow into the future through every threat, very much like the rivers do. However, like nature, even art forms need conscious effort from mankind to survive. It is important that these old traditions speak to the new generations and the latter relate to it instead of thinking of them as boring or uncool."
She believes it is important to inspire the younger generation and spark their interest in the local dance form of India. The girls gather every Friday to practise for two hours under the supervision of Rashmi.
Eleven-year-old Prachi Bhayani, who attends the practice regularly, said: "I love practising the Odissi dance as it is one of the oldest and acknowledged classical dance form. This dance form is offered to the Almighty to seek his blessings for an auspicious beginning. What I like the most about the dance is its uniqueness which helps in self-discipline."
Anshita Satapathy, 17-year-old, said the dance form is a beautiful way of expressing her emotions. "Odissi might be known as a dance form world wide. However, it helps me embrace, love, confide and learn to be myself every single day."
The girls under the supervision of their mentor aim at improving and perfecting the art of this dance form so they could inspire the world and make their country proud.