Hyderabad's Neha Khaitan talks about bringing together bharatnatyam, carnatic music and folk tales in her next performance
Neha Khaitan’s backstory about her introduction to Bharatanatyam is a rather interesting one. The city-based artiste, who was fascinated after watching a performance by exponent Hemamalini Arni, left her job and family in the US to shift to Hyderabad and learn from the expert. “Guru Smt Hemamalini Arni had back then planned to put a hold on her dance classes. I had moved to the US just after my wedding for professional reasons but continued to stay in touch with her. It was during one of our conversations that she told me she has started classes again. I immediately moved back to the city,” shares Neha.
Having grown up in West Bengal and belonging to a family hailing from Rajasthan, Neha started to learn dance only in her late twenties. It is the same quest to explore the art form that led her to conceptualise Anekdotes — Many Stories — a show that she is presenting in the city. The 90-minute performance will be a mix of dance and music — used as a storytelling method to narrate message-oriented tales. “I wanted to create a show that revives age-old ways of storytelling. Being a dancer, for me, there couldn’t have been a better way to put this together. It is all about adding elements of classical dance and music to share interesting stories,” she explains.
The performance will also feature a live orchestra who will play specially composed Carnatic tunes. Neha will narrate four stories ranging from mythology to folk through dance, for which she did a couple of years of research and reading. The challenge, she says, was to find the right match — music, steps, and story. So, after finalising on music, she picked the stories and then choreographed movements and expressions. “The stories are embellished with the elements of Indian classical dance — mudras or hand gestures, expressions, and abhinaya. Every story is also accompanied by a title illustration of its own and also has a deep message. Through this, I try to make learning and expressing a fun, engaging activity for people of all age groups,” Neha says.
November 2, 7 pm. At Saptaparni.