Best foot forward

Step by step

Best foot forward

They are a breed that have a rhythm in every move they make. It doesn’t matter that these international dance artistes don’t belong to Bengaluru for they say that they’ve found their true calling here in the city.

 Trained in salsa, jazz, ballet, contemporary and belly dance, they perform, teach and train young dancers here. They acknowledge that it is Benglauru’s vibrancy that has made them do it all with joie de vivre.

Dancer and freelance choreographer Timothy Wilson’s moves are swift and precise. He has learnt all kinds of styles such as ballet, tap dance and hiphop before he specialised in jazz back home in New York, and moved to Bengaluru a few years ago. “I’ve incorporated jazz movements from the 1920s to the 80s. What you will see is how the dance form has evolved. Jazz lends itself to great freedom of movement and expression,” he says.

Timothy feels the city has a huge following in jazz and though young dancers here learn both classical and Western dance forms, what’s missing among them is the fire and passion. “More importance is given to perfecting the technical aspect of dance and there is less emphasis on the feeling. Dancers need to be comfortable in their skin,” he adds.

It didn’t take too long for Timothy to adapt to Indian ways, be it the food or the lifestyle. “I stick to a vegetarian diet and I cook ‘dal’, rice, ‘roti’ and some basic vegetable-based dishes,” says Timothy. 

Irene van Zeeland was born in Netherlands where she studied dance at Codarts Rotterdam and Amsterdam University of the Arts. She worked in a couple of places and taught extensively before she moved to the city to teach first and second-year diploma students in Movement Arts and Mixed Media at Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts. She has specialised in Western classical ballet and contemporary dance and says that when she got an opportunity to move to Bengaluru, she took up the offer without a second thought. “The idea of staying in a new place and experiencing the culture, food habits and way of life, seemed like an exciting proposition,” says Irene. She was amazed by the discipline and motivation  among young dancers here. “They are so eager to learn. People here are quite creatively-inclined,” she says.

  Dancers get their share of exercise but Irene thinks it is important to stick to a fitness routine and a simple yet nutritious diet. “I am a vegetarian and I find the most amazing variety of vegetarian dishes here. Once in a while, I indulge in curries, ‘naans’ and ‘parathas’,” she says. She begins her day with a jog and a round of yoga. “This helps me stay fit and focussed,” she adds.  

Atalya Baumer, a native of Israel who is presently in Bengaluru, doesn’t think twice before saying that this is indeed her ‘second home’. “I’ve trained in ballet and contemporary dance and of all the cities that I’ve worked in, I find Bengaluru the most artistically inclined,” she shares. She also feels that this is one place where independent artistes, whether musicians or dancers, can grow.

  For Atalya, the most important thing for any dancer is to exercise and monitor their food intake. “I begin my day with exercise. I don’t cook very often but I relish the ‘dosa’, ‘idli’ and ‘khara bath’ here,” she adds. While work keeps her on her toes, Atalya has also picked up a little of Hindi and Kannada. “I converse in Hindi with autorickshaw drivers and I know a few words in Kannada like ‘nillisi’ and ‘munde hogi’. This helps me get around the city,” she says. 

 Sanaz Bakhtiari is an Iranian who moved to India in 2007. She runs the Sanaz Dance Studio where she teaches belly dance. She is overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of people here and their inclination towards learning dance. “My students comprise people of all age groups, including IT professionals and a lady who is a grandmother. A few girls tag along their mothers to the training as well,” she says.

She points out that she has people coming in for dance rehearsals at 6 am and then heading out to clock in 10 hours at work. “I have never seen such commitment and enthusiasm in any other city. People here are receptive to anything new,” she says. Sanaz never misses out on her yoga and meditation routine to stay fit. “A combination of a good diet and exercise has lent a lot of flexibility to my body,” she adds. The dancer has become so much a part of the culture here it’s no surprise then that she has replaced her cappuccino with filter coffee.

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