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Moksha and Nazaaqat perform at the 80th Dogwood Festival

Fenly Foxen
May 2016
Moksha and Nazaaqat perform at the 80th Dogwood Festival

The month of April saw dogwood trees in full bloom and bought special life to Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Hundreds of artists from around the country set up their tents for the 80th annual Dogwood Festival. Every year the park turns into a “mela”: arts and crafts, music, dance, activities, or culinary delights, there is something for everyone at the festival which was held over the weekend of April 8-10 this year. Dance groups Moksha and Nazaaqat were featured in theInternational Village. 

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For the last 5 years, the Indian fusion dance troupe Moksha, started by Proma Ray, has adorned the International Stage which is set up by the beautiful lake Clara Meerinside the park. It is an intercultural dance group where dancers are connected through their love for Indian dance styles and an openness to all cultures. Proma finds a lot ofinspiration from meeting non-Indiansdedicated to Indian dance traditions, and so was keen on creating an Indian fusion group.However, she reckons it will take a while for theaudience to “learn” that folk dance and classical fusion isnot Bollywood.

One of their dance formsis called Kalbelia. Kalbelia is a tribe from Rajasthan, India. Inthe past, they used to catch snakes and sell venom for a liv-ing. Their dance, also calledKalbelia, is sensuous, free-spirited and a bit dangerous to perform.The black dupatta and lehenga with the diamond patternsymbolizes a cobra, and the dancers have to be very lithe and flexible, like a snake! Proma had seen this dance style on TV as a kid, and was drawn to its beauty, and also to other Rajasthani tribal styles. Most Indians areunaware of this style which is on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List. She b came interested inpromoting Kalbelia and other lesser known dance forms to mainstream festivals.

While Indian classical and folk styles are the foundation of the dance stories they create, a desire to grow keeps them looking for new experiencesin the music and dance universe. This year they presented three dances, “Tandav”- a classical fusion, “Kalbelia,” and “Balam Pichkari” – a Bollywood-Breakdance fusion.

 

Nazaaqat’s dancers are all Indian-origin students from Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Palavi Vaidya, a coordinator for the team, explained that the name means the quality or state of being nice, agentle and delicate expression, or grace. The group startedafter they saw many dance teams in Atlanta performmostly Bollywood Fusion with more modern movements. Dance for all members of Nazaaqat is about the movements of their classicalbackground, and they wanted to start a dance group that could demonstrate the folk style of Indian dancing. 


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