In lockdown, Kathak helps these women stay upbeat

Rajeshree Nagarsekar
Friday, 15 May 2020

“Different situations give birth to unique ideas. In these times of both emotional and financial crisis, it's important to keep going and imparting the art of Kathak."

PANAJI: Although Samanvay Cultural Kathak Academy, based in Margao suspended classes following the nation-wide COVID-19 lockdown -- dance educator Prerna Agarwal is conducting free online sessions on Facebook Live and Facebook Messenger to demonstrate Kathak as a tool to beat anxiety caused by covid19.

Daily, she trains over 200 students (pre-dominantly women) based in Russia, Ukraine, United States and Netherlands, and several states in India including Karnataka, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Ahemadabad, Madhya Pradesh, besides Goa.

“Different situations give birth to unique ideas. In these times of both emotional and financial crisis, it's important to keep going and imparting the art of Kathak. Learning should never stop whatever be the situation. Also, I thought it would be unfair to cash in on the lockdown. Hence, I decided to teach for free and this has boosted the participation in a big way,” explains the dance expert.

Kathak is not a very easy discipline to imbibe effortlessly and it requires accuracy says Prerna. Listing the challenges faced in virtual class room, she says, “Kathak is a complicated dance form and requires constant guidance and monitoring. It is not possible to physically correct each and every movement of the students via this medium. Though for students it is convenient, free and there is no pressure of dancing among others, thus helping to express without inhibitions.” 

For Prerna, the lockdown has not been less traumatic. “My routine was affected. I did not have anything to look forward to all day, which was frustrating. That is when I thought of redeeming myself by these online classes."

Explaining why Kathak is important to keep mind and body healthy and tuned, she says, “Kathak has the ability to take you to a world free from all negativity. There has been some overwhelming feedback coming my way, with students writing to me about how these classes have helped them get over their quarantine stress and anxiety. They tell me how my class is the sole productive activity they do throughout the day.”

So says Anna, a resident of Ukraine. “Losing clients has been depressing. Prerna's initiative of online Kathak classes literally woke me up and gave the boost of positive energy,” says the massage therapist. Interestingly, an online community is already forming around Prerna’s sessions. “It is a pleasure to practice together, to see each other's progress, to cheer up and to be inspired,” she tells. 

Living in USA, Nandisha Pai Kane is facing the worst situation in terms of the pandemic. “With rising cases and death all around, I am confined to my home all the time. Especially in this time of crisis, Prerna's unique way to help teach Kathak, that too free, is much appreciated. Kathak is a good way to deal with anxiety, stress and loneliness which so many of us are facing today,” the pharmacist tells GT from North Carolina. 

For Vandan Dhakad of Bhopal, lockdown has given an opportunity to learn something new. “Learning Kathak is de-stressing. It helps me to remain physically fit too,” says the homemaker. 

For those who have always harbored secret dancing ambitions, now could be the time to act. “I was training in Kathak as a child, but had to quit it due to higher studies,” says Margao based Namita Volvotkar. “Kathak has helped me to be disciplined, self confident and increased my stamina,” says the architect who is happy that she is able to keep practicing the dance form she is passionate about, even in lockdown.

Similarly feels Rohini Naik - Kini, an IT Risk & Compliance Professional. “Hectic work schedule and long commute left me with very little time for hobbies and vocational training. These classes are a welcome change in my busy schedule. I keep dancing to de-stress myself ,” she adds.

Nevertheless, with millions of people confined to their homes all over the world, and public health experts pointing out that social distancing and isolation could lead to rise in mental illnesses -- dancing would be seen as therapeutic more than before.

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