Modern look at Indian dance

Modern look at Indian dance
Chowk Productions
Classically trained Indian dancer Raka Maitra.

SINGAPORE - Chowk Productions is headed by classically trained dancer Raka Maitra (below) and was kickstarted by an $80,000 seed grant which the National Arts Council awarded the group earlier this year. Chowk, a Hindi word which means square, refers to a market square and also the basic posture of the Odissi dance form.

The company will be staging the classical performance, You Cannot Look Away, on Friday and Saturday.

Although the company has just been formalised, Maitra, 43, has been teaching dance since 2007. She says of Chowk's creation: "There's no platform in Singapore for full-time Indian dancers, so I wanted to develop that here, a place where we can have paid dancers doing serious work."

She has 32 students, aged seven to 30something, in her fold. Seven of them train more seriously, at least five days a week, for performances.

She does not have any dancers on her payroll yet.

Her goal is clear, she says. "I want to train students for performances. There will be two sections, contemporary and classical. I want to train people in the classical and develop contemporary work from there."

The company will put on two works a year - one classical and one contemporary.

This year's contemporary show, The Blind Age, will take place in November as part of the Esplanade's Kalaa Utsavam festival, which focuses on Indian arts.

As for the upcoming classical performance, Maitra says classical does not necessarily mean traditional.

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