Utpal Borpujari

April 15, 2009

Breaking Boundaries and More

Filed under: Culture,Dance,Deccan Herald,Media — Utpal Borpujari @ 3:31 pm
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By Utpal Borpujari

When Priya Sipka, Raju Thapa, Viraj, Anil Kumar and ten other youngsters like them made sinewy movements on a stage Monday, it was more than a statement they were making.


What these street kids from Delhi were performing was modern dance – nothing akin to the “Bollywood” dances they would perform usually or the kind that one saw protagonists Jamal and Latika do to the tunes of Ring Ring Ringa or Jai Ho in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.


Choreographed by internationally-renowned dancer Astad Deboo who trained them for six long months, Breaking Boundaries, a dance performance comprising five inter-linked pieces, helped them break many boundaries – literally and metaphorically.


Almost all of them runaways from home – some of them having reconnected with their families since then, but reluctant to return home – the teenagers were selected by Deboo from the Salaam Baalak Trust, an NGO formed by the profits from Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay to help street kids in getting ahead in life.


The performance, as they say in unison, has not only helped them in learning how the human body can be utilised to the best possible extent, but also made them more confident about themselves.


As Anil Kumar, who had run away from home in Rae Bareli when he was just six years old to escape his drunken father’s regular beatings, puts it, “When sir (Deboo) started our workshop six months ago, we found the whole thing very strange, but now we realise how we can use our bodies to perform very unique and difficult manoeuvres.”


“Initially, our bodies would ache like anything after the strenuous movements, but now we have got used to them,” says Priya.


Deboo, who has performed worldwide, tells Deccan Herald that he is proud of each of these street kids not only because of their performance but because of their “hunger and thirst” to do something in life.


“After this performance, we are looking for sponsors to take this very talented bunch of youngsters to other Indian cities, and yes, possibly abroad also, like all my earlier shows have been,” says Deboo.


Mohammad Shamshul, who is learning Kathakali at the International Kathakali Institute and Chhau at the Triveni Kala Sangam, along with Avinash, is working as assistants to Deboo by dint of their experience in the field.


Shamshul, who has now moved out of the Trust to make his own life, however, keeps returning to his “home” that it is. “We have grown up there, and if it had not been for the Trust, we would not have still roaming around in the streets of Delhi,” he says.


“This is our family, and this performance has helped us strengthening that bond,” says Viraj, another youngster who had run away from Jamshedpur.


Breaking boundaries is definitely what these youngsters have done, but perhaps it is much more that they have achieved through this performance.


(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 15-04-2009)



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