Kruti Dance Academy’s Annual Recital At Its Dazzling Best

(All photos courtesy of Vinod Devlia, Copyright Photos by Vinod)

By Kavita Chhibber

It could have competed with the top notch professionally choreographed shows from Bollywood or a classical dance festival of India, and come out tops. Indeed the sold out, Annual recital of Kruti Dance Academy headed by the effervescent Dina Sheth was music, dance and professionalism at its best.

‘In the 11 years that I have presented our annual recital we have always started on the dot,’ says Dina and on the dot it was, as Atlanta Symphony Hall’s beautifully decorated spacious stage came alive on June 4th 2006 at 2 p.m. For the next 4 hours, the audience was dazzled by some of what was learnt at the Academy, in a presentation that was sheer elegance, style and pizzazz.

The children learn far more than they actually end up performing. “To have 300 kids, put up items that are the right length and still highlight what they have learnt and make sure the audience doesn’t get bored is a lot of work. Children perform one item each, though at time some learn stuff beyond their course so that they can fit into an item,’ says Dina

The theme for this year was’ Kalakaar-a true artist” and as 300 young artists from all age groups presented a taste of classical and modern India through dance, flowing parallel with the display of dazzling footwork, and melody were thoughts presented verbally by several students who had been trained in the academy. Each mentioned what being an artist, and Dina aunty as she is affectionately known by all, had meant to them.

The show was split into four segments.-Bal Kanya Kalakar, Bollywood Balak, Navyowan Kalakaar and Aaj Ke Kalakar. Shemoni Sheth, the very talented daughter of Dina and a graduate of the academy explained what was being shown in the four segments.

The first segment Bal Kanya Kalakaars, demonstrated the young beginners’ initial grasp of intricate dance movements. Bollywood Balaak, showcased ways with which the young dancers creatively applied their acquired skills to modern Bollywood moves. In Bollywood Balaak, the compositions were based on hit film songs, like Lucky Lips, Just Chill, Chori Chori, Kiss me Baby, Bindas ending with the Bollywood finale where all artists sashayed on and off the stage in a fluid continuation.

Nav Yowan Kalakaars… showcased the growth of the dancer to a higher level and those numbers were choreographed in classical style with beams of fusion lighting up the stage.

Aaj Ke Kalakaar was a representation of the “fully developed artiste’. The choreography, said Shemoni was built on a classical foundation but exposed through modern Bollywood renditions.

The four segments encapsulated the beauty of Bharat natyam, the ear pleasing vocal renditions of Indian classical music, the lilt of hip hop Bollywood style, the fragrance of the folk dance of Punjab, the Bhangra, and the essence of Holi, the festival of colors that was captured with frolic, melody, colorful props, a little Krishna with his Radha, a village belle being swept of her feet as her beau rode across the stage on a bike with her, and of course the foot tapping qawalli, that is always a sure hit with the crowd.

It was amazing to see the eye for detail, whether it was the outfits or the jewelry or the meticulous way the stage was set. It also spilled into the performance, the dance steps and even the way each segment ended. The music varied from classical to fusion to plain Bollywood as kids of all age groups put up a finely tuned segment each time, with beauty and grace. The entire performance was a wonderful improvisation of the classical and the modern while remaining true to the focus of paying tribute to the young artists through their art.

Several students of the Academy shared their thoughts, on what a Kalakaar, being a part of Kruti and knowing Dina Sheth has meant to them.

Dulari Doshi and her mother have transcended two generations of dancers under Dina. Dulari is nine and will be a fourth grader in the fall. She said, “For me a true Artist is an artist with a passion and dedication for their art….. When my mom was a teenager she used to learn from Dina aunty. Even when my mom was pregnant with me she danced. That’s where I got my dancing feet….. our family finally moved to the U.S.A. For a couple of years I danced at home. My mom found out about Kruti and went to check it out. There she met Dina Auntie after 20 some years! And the next thing you know, I am at Kruti learning from my mom’s teacher.”

Sagar Patel says, “I have been with this academy for six years. Kruti Dance Academy is a very special part of my life. When I came to Kruti I was able to learn more about my Indian culture.

Vijay Palvia feels a Kalaakar is one who demonstrates an excellent ability in mesmerizing the audience and at the same time brings out the best of those who dance with him or her.      

Elysse Mahepal became the 29th graduate of the academy in 2005. “Through Kruti we have all found what we are passionate about. A true artist for her was one who could portray him or herself through the art, and yet make it his/her own.” For many of us dance has become the art that we can express ourselves through. Kalakaar is something that Kruti has shown us to be both pure and beautiful. It is something that the academy brings forth in every one of its students.”

Mili Shah is the 30th and most recent graduate of the academy. “Coming all the way from Augusta, GA, I have driven 3 hours to come to class every week for seven years, but Kruti has been well worth this sacrifice. I have learned so much on my path to becoming a true artist from Kruti’s values and lessons.”

Sabrina Nizam who is currently a District Attorney said “Kruti means creation, and the most important thing I learned during my time at the Kruti dance Academy was the importance of creating a unique path for myself. I learned the importance of stepping outside of the mold. So when it came time to pave a path for my life, I decided to do something very different, I became a prosecutor. Today, by the grace of God, I am an Assistant District Attorney for the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit, one of the very few Indian ADA’s in the State and to my knowledge the only female Indian ADA in Georgia. Kruti taught me to find the courage to excel not only on the dance stage, but also on the stage of life”.

For Dina Sheth, this year’s program, was an offshoot of her dream 10th anniversary show,” Flight to fantasy,’ which she held at the Fox theater. “ I felt this year I would like to focus on the artists themselves.” Each stage of an artist’s life is a milestone, says Dina and as the artist develops and evolves he or she must realize that a true artist is the one who evolves with grace, generosity and graciousness. The preparations began 3-4 months before the final event, clothes were designed, jewelry matched, new parents were shown two makeup sessions lasting four hours each to help them understand that makeup styles for classical dances and Bollywood segments were different. Dina also prefers not to dress the kids in revealing clothes, or leave their hair loose.” I like the elegant and clean lines both in clothing and hair styles as well as make up.”

Sissy Simmons, who is not Indian or married to one, teaches the major segments of contemporary dances.” I saw Sissy perform and really liked her dance style as well as her ethics and moral values. She spent 6-8 months understanding from me what Indian culture is all about, what kind of values and philosophy it carries with it. I got her to see a lot of videos, before she taught her first class.” Dina used to invite dancers who performed with bollywood stars at shows for summer projects to teach at her academy, until Sissy took over,’ She has done a great job of teaching the kids and is as dedicated as I’m and as detail oriented.”

Indeed the hip hop performances by the kids in the Bollywood segment were greatly appreciated by the full house. The grand finale a classical performance to fusion music had every one tapping their feet, and the qawalli segment had every one clapping and cheering.

The show ended with beautiful diamond crystal trophies, individually handcrafted certificates with fresh flowers pressed into them being announced for the artists and three students of the year awards handed out to students who truly embodied the spirit of leadership, modesty, flexibility, volunteerism, discipline and responsibility, along with a positive and courteous attitude. Shaina and Shreya Patel and Pooja Sampat were the deserving winners this year.

You’d think after all the hard work Dina Sheth would be on a cruise. No such thing..the hard working lady who celebrates her 25th wedding anniversary this year was back at the studio looking at the arangetram schedules of her graduating students in July and August. Then it will be business as usual as her ever growing number of students return to continue to learn to keep Indian culture vibrant and alive.

All Material © Copyright Kavita Chhibber


Email this article to a friend  E-mail this article