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Monday, April 24, 2006

Nrityageet 27... and counting!


Nrityageet 27... and counting!
The Nadira and Indranie Shah Dance Troupe poses after a rehearsal for Nrityageet 25 in April 2004. (Stabroek News file photo)

There is an interesting kind of freedom on the face of a Nrityageet dancer during a performance that draws you into a world of spirited, artistic expression where dancing is not so much about what steps you should follow but where you want the moves to take you.

An unbound capacity to feel, follow and flow as the music does, is the greatest appeal and at times the strangest of phenomena because of the effortless synchronizing that is executed on stage when they are dancing.

Nrityageet which means 'pure music and dance' in the Hindi language has been synonymous with quality dance productions in Guyana for the past 26 years, 27 when this year is counted and there is no sign that the production is nearing its end. In fact, the theatrical flavour of the show continues to pull in rave reviews - every single one of them deserving.

On May 6 and 7, Nrityageet 27 is on at the National Cultural Centre. Dancers of the Guyana Chapter who have been dancing under the name 'Demerara Dancer's will be joined by students from Sweden and the US for the production.

The concept behind Nrityageet is an ethnic blend of solid Guyanese dancers with an equally impressive repertoire moving to and inspired by everything that surrounds them, from the sounds of dolak and satar, to the beats of Congo drums.

Indranie and Nadira Shah (Stabroek News file photo May 1998)

In its mix are secondary school and university students who have declared their love for dancing as the real reason for being part of Nrityageet. The choreographies reflect a focus in classical, folk and modern Indian dance, and the influence of the Caribbean, and Latin American backgrounds.

Nrityageet's world is filled with passionate dancing, a mix of imaginative, original music and popular sounds, elaborate costumes and intricate stage props. Every dance is a production in itself, which is another unique aspect of this world and the time and effort that helps create it once a year is as demanding as any job could get.

The most likely explanation as to who or what is behind such a project would be a company or an institution of some kind given all that goes into it, which is why people tend to be stunned when the Shah family name is the only one mentioned. How did they do it? Seeta Shah Mohammed, director of Nrityageet since it first debuted on the local stage, recently told us that her family might have started it but today it is a family of committed people who all put it together.

Among some of the people she credited are Lynette Dolphin, Daphne Rogers and Billy Pilgrim. She said Pilgrim wholeheartedly supported Nrityageet and as a fitting tribute, Nrityageet 27 is dedicated to his memory.

Nrityageet is the brainchild of Mohamed's mother, Bhanmattie Shah who eventually turned the production over to her daughters. Seeta Shah Mohamed, Nadira Shah Berry and Indrani Shah Lennartson are the real faces, life and the passion of the production and their firm commitment to it is deserving of continuous applause, though Seeta would modestly tell you they were guided and influenced by a countless number of persons throughout the years. She insists that Nrityageet is more than just the Shah Sisters.

"Nrityageet captures the cultural mosaic of Guyana in dance and our choreography reflects our varied interest in everything around us. We are a team and [we] have been since the inception which is why it works," Seeta said.

For this year's production, she said, they have been choreographing, frenetically rehearsing, and designing costumes over the last few moths. One costume in particular, for the peacock drama dance, has proved very time consuming.

Every year Bhanmattie Shah, the artistic eye and hands behind the costumes, works on one that is sure to wow any crowd. The peacock is her selection for Nrityageet 27.

Seeta said her mother travels far and wide to get ideas and materials for the costumes. "We would go to Broadway shows to see the standards they are setting and we aim that high. Sometimes inspiration and ideas come when we are holidaying somewhere and we come back home and execute for Nrityageet because we believe in putting on the best show possible."

Seeta said her family has deep roots in the arts. Since her childhood days, she has been exposed to classical ballet and various types of Indian dancing. Her sisters who followed along similar lines were trained by the best of Indian and local talent which included lessons from the National School of Dance instructors Vivienne Daniel and Linda Griffith among others and Pandits Durgalall and Girdhor Chan.

She said her sisters are gifted dancers who have excelled at orissi (Indian ballet) and khatak, while she is more of a ballet dancer. Her daughter, Suzanne, recently joined the line-up of Shah Sisters and has already created a name for herself. ianaseales@yahoo.com.

There is an interesting kind of freedom on the face of a Nrityageet dancer during a performance that draws you into a world of spirited, artistic expression where dancing is not so much about what steps you should follow but where you want the moves to take you.

An unbound capacity to feel, follow and flow as the music does, is the greatest appeal and at times the strangest of phenomena because of the effortless synchronizing that is executed on stage when they are dancing.

Nrityageet which means 'pure music and dance' in the Hindi language has been synonymous with quality dance productions in Guyana for the past 26 years, 27 when this year is counted and there is no sign that the production is nearing its end. In fact, the theatrical flavour of the show continues to pull in rave reviews - every single one of them deserving.

On May 6 and 7, Nrityageet 27 is on at the National Cultural Centre. Dancers of the Guyana Chapter who have been dancing under the name 'Demerara Dancer's will be joined by students from Sweden and the US for the production.

The concept behind Nrityageet is an ethnic blend of solid Guyanese dancers with an equally impressive repertoire moving to and inspired by everything that surrounds them, from the sounds of dolak and satar, to the beats of Congo drums.

In its mix are secondary school and university students who have declared their love for dancing as the real reason for being part of Nrityageet. The choreographies reflect a focus in classical, folk and modern Indian dance, and the influence of the Caribbean, and Latin American backgrounds.

Nrityageet's world is filled with passionate dancing, a mix of imaginative, original music and popular sounds, elaborate costumes and intricate stage props. Every dance is a production in itself, which is another unique aspect of this world and the time and effort that helps create it once a year is as demanding as any job could get.

The most likely explanation as to who or what is behind such a project would be a company or an institution of some kind given all that goes into it, which is why people tend to be stunned when the Shah family name is the only one mentioned. How did they do it? Seeta Shah Mohammed, director of Nrityageet since it first debuted on the local stage, recently told us that her family might have started it but today it is a family of committed people who all put it together.

Among some of the people she credited are Lynette Dolphin, Daphne Rogers and Billy Pilgrim. She said Pilgrim wholeheartedly supported Nrityageet and as a fitting tribute, Nrityageet 27 is dedicated to his memory.

Nrityageet is the brainchild of Mohamed's mother, Bhanmattie Shah who eventually turned the production over to her daughters. Seeta Shah Mohamed, Nadira Shah Berry and Indrani Shah Lennartson are the real faces, life and the passion of the production and their firm commitment to it is deserving of continuous applause, though Seeta would modestly tell you they were guided and influenced by a countless number of persons throughout the years. She insists that Nrityageet is more than just the Shah Sisters.

"Nrityageet captures the cultural mosaic of Guyana in dance and our choreography reflects our varied interest in everything around us. We are a team and [we] have been since the inception which is why it works," Seeta said.

For this year's production, she said, they have been choreographing, frenetically rehearsing, and designing costumes over the last few moths. One costume in particular, for the peacock drama dance, has proved very time consuming.

Every year Bhanmattie Shah, the artistic eye and hands behind the costumes, works on one that is sure to wow any crowd. The peacock is her selection for Nrityageet 27.

Seeta said her mother travels far and wide to get ideas and materials for the costumes. "We would go to Broadway shows to see the standards they are setting and we aim that high. Sometimes inspiration and ideas come when we are holidaying somewhere and we come back home and execute for Nrityageet because we believe in putting on the best show possible."

Seeta said her family has deep roots in the arts. Since her childhood days, she has been exposed to classical ballet and various types of Indian dancing. Her sisters who followed along similar lines were trained by the best of Indian and local talent which included lessons from the National School of Dance instructors Vivienne Daniel and Linda Griffith among others and Pandits Durgalall and Girdhor Chan.

She said her sisters are gifted dancers who have excelled at orissi (Indian ballet) and khatak, while she is more of a ballet dancer. Her daughter, Suzanne, recently joined the line-up of Shah Sisters and has already created a name for herself. ianaseales@yahoo.com.

There is an interesting kind of freedom on the face of a Nrityageet dancer during a performance that draws you into a world of spirited, artistic expression where dancing is not so much about what steps you should follow but where you want the moves to take you.

An unbound capacity to feel, follow and flow as the music does, is the greatest appeal and at times the strangest of phenomena because of the effortless synchronizing that is executed on stage when they are dancing.

Nrityageet which means 'pure music and dance' in the Hindi language has been synonymous with quality dance productions in Guyana for the past 26 years, 27 when this year is counted and there is no sign that the production is nearing its end. In fact, the theatrical flavour of the show continues to pull in rave reviews - every single one of them deserving.

On May 6 and 7, Nrityageet 27 is on at the National Cultural Centre. Dancers of the Guyana Chapter who have been dancing under the name 'Demerara Dancer's will be joined by students from Sweden and the US for the production.

The concept behind Nrityageet is an ethnic blend of solid Guyanese dancers with an equally impressive repertoire moving to and inspired by everything that surrounds them, from the sounds of dolak and satar, to the beats of Congo drums.

In its mix are secondary school and university students who have declared their love for dancing as the real reason for being part of Nrityageet. The choreographies reflect a focus in classical, folk and modern Indian dance, and the influence of the Caribbean, and Latin American backgrounds.

Nrityageet's world is filled with passionate dancing, a mix of imaginative, original music and popular sounds, elaborate costumes and intricate stage props. Every dance is a production in itself, which is another unique aspect of this world and the time and effort that helps create it once a year is as demanding as any job could get.

The most likely explanation as to who or what is behind such a project would be a company or an institution of some kind given all that goes into it, which is why people tend to be stunned when the Shah family name is the only one mentioned. How did they do it? Seeta Shah Mohammed, director of Nrityageet since it first debuted on the local stage, recently told us that her family might have started it but today it is a family of committed people who all put it together.

Among some of the people she credited are Lynette Dolphin, Daphne Rogers and Billy Pilgrim. She said Pilgrim wholeheartedly supported Nrityageet and as a fitting tribute, Nrityageet 27 is dedicated to his memory.

Nrityageet is the brainchild of Mohamed's mother, Bhanmattie Shah who eventually turned the production over to her daughters. Seeta Shah Mohamed, Nadira Shah Berry and Indrani Shah Lennartson are the real faces, life and the passion of the production and their firm commitment to it is deserving of continuous applause, though Seeta would modestly tell you they were guided and influenced by a countless number of persons throughout the years. She insists that Nrityageet is more than just the Shah Sisters.

"Nrityageet captures the cultural mosaic of Guyana in dance and our choreography reflects our varied interest in everything around us. We are a team and [we] have been since the inception which is why it works," Seeta said.

For this year's production, she said, they have been choreographing, frenetically rehearsing, and designing costumes over the last few moths. One costume in particular, for the peacock drama dance, has proved very time consuming.

Every year Bhanmattie Shah, the artistic eye and hands behind the costumes, works on one that is sure to wow any crowd. The peacock is her selection for Nrityageet 27.

Seeta said her mother travels far and wide to get ideas and materials for the costumes. "We would go to Broadway shows to see the standards they are setting and we aim that high. Sometimes inspiration and ideas come when we are holidaying somewhere and we come back home and execute for Nrityageet because we believe in putting on the best show possible."

Seeta said her family has deep roots in the arts. Since her childhood days, she has been exposed to classical ballet and various types of Indian dancing. Her sisters who followed along similar lines were trained by the best of Indian and local talent which included lessons from the National School of Dance instructors Vivienne Daniel and Linda Griffith among others and Pandits Durgalall and Girdhor Chan.

She said her sisters are gifted dancers who have excelled at orissi (Indian ballet) and khatak, while she is more of a ballet dancer. Her daughter, Suzanne, recently joined the line-up of Shah Sisters and has already created a name for herself. ianaseales@yahoo.com.


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