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In Chennai, as a student, Guru Bhanumati saw fifty Russian dancers performing a ballet piece. At once, a thought occurred to her. How wonderful would it be to have many dancers doing Bharatanatyam with its wide variety of adavus and movements?
When once asked by an event manager to avoid Bharatanatyam and present something 'interesting', she was extremely hurt. This reignited the spark to innovate using group choreography.
Her starting point was to have a minimum of four dancers with identical costumes, perfect synchronisation and coordination along with exotic and varied formations. In February of 1994, Bharatanjali was born with 4 dancers. They started taking jatis and re-choreographed them for group performance without changing the adavus. They then chose songs where dramatic elements could be introduced.
This enabled the audience to relate to the content easily and develop an interest to the classical tradition. The group format allows for more dancers to get an opportunity to perform. It poses a challenge to the dancers and helps them become more understanding, flexible and tolerant, enabling them to manage life situations better. Performing as a group is a novel and enjoyable experience for dancers, as they discover the joy of dancing together.
Bharatanjali has performed about a thousand times in several national and international festivals and forums. Guru Bhanumati believes that group choreography has much to offer in terms of creatively bringing out the potential of the performing tradition.
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