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A riveting dance-drama by Planet U

By Bhuvana Sukumar, MD
February 2015
A riveting dance-drama by Planet U

(Photos: Venkat Kuttua)

Planet U Performing Arts dance school in Alpharetta delivered a magnificent recital named ‘Dollywood Dhamaka’ at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center on January 11, 2015. The program started on time with Planet U’s signature introductory dances in which students showcased their prowess with an explosion of scintillating hip hop, jazz, filmi fusion, folk, and bhangra style dances imaginatively choreographed by Akshaya Murlidhar, Assistant Director of Planet U Performing Arts.

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Then came the Indian cinema style dance drama 'Dollywood Dhamaka,' conceptualized and choreographed by Uma Murlidhar, Director of Planet U Performing Arts. In this interesting story, from a young age, the heroine Mona is very attached to her doll, Pinky. She does not outgrow her love for the doll even when she grows up, much to her mother’s chagrin. One day as a teen, she dreams that her doll comes to life and becomes her best friend. Mona takes her new friend everywhere, teaches her everything about being a human, and their friendship is strong until she and her doll-friend enter a Bollywood competition. Then the plot thickens. When it looks like the doll is going to win the competition, Mona manipulates her Bollywood-crazed uncle to kidnap the doll-friend so that she would not be in the finals. Mona wins but learns a lesson that success should not rely on others’ weakness but one’s own strength.

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Forty fast-paced songs were interspersed to produce a riveting dance/drama with much skilled dancing, drama, comedy, and an awesome mix of dazzling colorful costumes in typical Bollywood masala style. Planet U’s 150 well-trained students ranging from as young as four to adults presented their dances flawlessly with energy and grace and kept the audience engaged and spell bound. All the dances elicited repeated applause from the enthusiastic audience. This highly entertaining event was covered by TV Asia.

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Planet U Performing Arts donates the net proceeds of their recitals to a charitable cause, this year to Ekal Vidyalaya, a nonprofit that empowers children and their families in rural and tribal communities in India through education, healthcare, and vocational training. During the event, Ms. Rachna Gupta from Ekal Vidyalaya presented a slideshow and highlighted the one-teacher school model which exists in all Indian states from Kashmir to Kerala. Ekal currently runs 57,422 schools benefitting 1.61 million students. She urged more school students to come forward to take up Ekal’s cause through ICE (India Cultural Exchange) and other social clubs in their schools, as Chattahoochee High School and Planet U students are doing. Planet U students through this fundraiser strived to make the lives of children in rural India better and showed that they firmly believe that education changes lives.

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