Club of the Month: Classical Dance Club

In conversation with Rithi Murari, the President of the Classical Dance Club, on how they make everyone dance to their tunes.

Rochana Mohan, III Year B.A. English

With precision and grace, the dancers sway and move on stage as the audience watches captivated. The Classical Dance Club never fails to amaze those who watch them, both with their talent and their hard work. The current President, Rithi Murari from the Sociology Department, tells us more about the club and more about classical dance in the city.

Known for their immaculate performances and enviable style, the Classical Dance Club has performed both within and outside college. Their arrangements are equal measures fierce and gentle, with each movement exhibiting the high standards that the club demands. “Our plan for this year is to include more dance styles into our roster,” says Murari. “We have focused solely on Bharathanatiyam for the past two years. There are so many more dance styles out there, and I want the club to explore and experiment more.”

Murari explains in detail how the relationship between a performer and the audience is essential. “There has to be a connect between the dancer and the audience,” she explains. “We want them to feel all the emotions we felt when we worked on a performance.” She explains how the Classical Dance Club tries to emulate this in their performances. Having recently conducted a workshop by Dr. Swarnamalya Ganesh on ‘Sadir Attam’ that went extremely well, it seems as though the club is ready to take on the coming year with great gusto.

An active dancer herself, Murari also shed some light on classical dance in Chennai. “Classical dance in the city isn’t very well accepted as, say, classical music,” she says. The cause for this, according to her, is due to dances being very monotonous, especially in solo performances. “The audience is just so used to the same dances for songs. Invariably, one piece is rendered the exact same way, so people are bored of it.”

“In classical music, when someone is giving a concert, there is a very important concept – manodharma. Manodharma is your imagination, your creative way of approaching a piece, how you render it, in the most creative way possible. This I find missing in classical dance today,” she says. Murari goes on to explain how the Classical Dance Club strives to revive this concept. Through rigorous practice and careful arrangements, the Club strives to reproduce a piece that is wholly unique and different.

Upon being asked of her favourite moments in the club, Murari says, “The practices. I find practice more exciting than the show. We talk and joke and mess up. Most importantly, we learn from each other. We learn how one piece can be done in many different ways and how each and every movement is different from the rest.”

The Classical Dance Club, with all their talent and grace, seem to be ready for the upcoming year. With much planned for the club such as more workshops and plans to perform in inter-collegiate fests, there’s no stopping these talented dancers from achieving exactly what they want.

[Photograph Source: Classical Dance Club of Stella Maris Facebook Page]

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