Kathak dancer tells stories through movement
Sejuti Mourin of DOT
Saloni Saraf is a Kathak dancer in London. She practices an ancient dance form that tells stories through movement.
Kathak is the Hindi name for one of the eight major forms of Indian classical dance. The origin of Kathak is traditionally attributed to the traveling bards of ancient northern India known as Kathakars or storytellers.
Saloni left the city to attend boarding school at age 16. When she came back at age 18, she realized it was her calling. She said, ‘Only when you’re away from something do you realize how much you need it in your life. But being a south Asian dancer in the UK is not always easy. In the community many hope to make their passion a full-time job, but find it hard to make ends meets as kathak dancers.’
Saloni also said, ‘I know a lot of dancers that would love to do this and this only but can’t because it’s just not sustainable. You need a job on the side, and when you have a job on the side it becomes a lot more difficult to lose yourself in the world of dance all day every day. It’s not necessarily that we face any discrimination as dancers of color, and when it comes to the slightly more business side of it, there is a lack of funding’. There are less kathak dancers than there are ballet dancers in the UK. That doesn’t mean that it justifies a difference in opportunity, but it’s understandable why it potentially exists. That feeling of pure bliss is what made me realize there’s nothing else that I could possibly do.Saloni believes the representation of global dance forms in the UK. is inspiring choreographers to integrate kathak in their work.
She said, ‘To be able to have both those worlds side-by-side within the same industry is quite unique. Nowadays if I go into western context and tell people that I’m a kathak dancer, 4 out of 10 people will know what kathak is because they’ve come across it in some way or another. It’s interesting because it’s a contradiction in itself. Whilst there’s a lack of opportunities, there’s also a number of opportunities because the community is small but those within the community are such large personalities and are so inspiring and are so dedicated to their form and to the arts and to the classical Indian arts that you feel like there’s no lack of artists. Global dance forms should be involved and they should be included because if you’re representing dance in a place like the UK, which is such a diverse place, you can’t not include the people that create the diversity.
Her message to young struggling dancers in the UK is keep dancing. Even if it’s difficult and even if she feel like there are no opportunities and that it’s taking ages for her to find a way to pursue this in the way that she want, don’t stop. If we stop dancing then the rest of the world won’t be able to see how special our form is, she added.
Source: Brut(From Video)