Our 11th Outreach marks a major transition from initial to advanced training for a select few who have steadfastly held onto their practice since our first time here in Dhasa in September 2021.

We enter a solid spell of foundational training wherein alignment is at the centre of it all. It is super tricky for them and us. Alignment is such a specialized area of correction that every one of our girls will be incorporating it into their bodies differently.

This is simply because our bodies are differently designed. For the very first time, they will see their differences rather than looking at themselves, as a collective, as they thus far have. And rightly so! We always begin as a squad, if we're lucky enough to and then we find our niches from there.

As trainers/coaches/mentors/demonstrators, it is an extremely intimidating endeavour to undertake as there is only one way to effect alignment - correctly. Our attention has to be steady, present, all there and unflinching. As does the girls'. It is not easy working with different body conditions, shapes, physiques and abilities. As agile as our girls may be, they all have their quirks and weaknesses and strengths - most of which they will not share.

We do too. And it has taken us years and years of streamlining our bodies in order make our dance as efficient as it can be. And we are still at it. Every day, every time we dance. That simply is the nature of the beast (and beauty!) that is Classical Dance.

So, every class is a separate set of corrections specific to each little dancer. But they are smiling. We are smiling.
And how gratifying is it to get here!!!

Advanced training. Alignment. Gosh, Junoon better be getting its best game on! Let's do this girls. And like our favourite mentors (Sleek Technique) say it, "Let's get Sleek!"


Our entry into alignment territory is taking us places we never saw ourselves going. We are learning how to hold ourselves straight and do justice, just as well, to our bends and curves. Are our limbs making the right angles, never mind that they aren't all meant to be "right angles"? Are we grounded firmly on our mats and floors so as to keep our bodies stable when we're attempting some wild, wacky, weird balance work?

And then, even as we make those strange moves, are we aligned and correct and are our postures erect?

Demonstrative teaching is a huge part of our training ethos. We do not simply stand and stare and instruct our girls to dance. We dance, continuously, with them, for them and by their side as they navigate these complex Classical Art forms.

We constructed a routine that the girls could simply copy and flow to, all the while being conscious of their backs and bends and openness and the inescapable necessity to stretch far and wide and with an abandon (far from reckless) so so focused.

They went along beautifully. And it puts us at ease to know, assuredly, that they will be carrying this ease, this precision, this abandon into their practice of Classical Dance.

We flowed to a Gujarati song we have come to love so much - "Vhalam Aavo Ne" - come to us, like love does, beating and fluttering and with flying feet - just like Classical Dance.


As we close our 11th Rural Outreach, we think it crucial to communicate its excruciating details that we often cannot envisage as an audience that is simply beholding performance after performance and expecting more.

It was well past 42°C when we began this Outreach and the temperature has steadily increased. We work on days and through spells when the electricity runs out, without complaint. Because we have to. In the dry heat of Gujarat, our girls have been nothing but warriors, soldiering on for everything their practice is worth.

Our girls are put through a rigorous athletic regimen every single day of their dancing lives and otherwise.

They run to loosen up and warm up and to transition between sets of core, strength and agility work. And of course, to build that key quality without which nothing unusual is possible - stamina. Classical Dance requires an unimaginable amount of it, all year round, in all types of weather and mental conditions.

Warmer, more enduring bodies function better and are more able to reflect the symmetry in movement demanded by Classical Dance.

As their postures and lines even out, as their bodies lengthen, they do have to, for the purpose of better technique in both Bharata Natyam and Classical Ballet, get used to working with a Barre.

We use chairs to better understand Pliés, Tendus and other minute, larger, incredible movements in the different Ballet positions. And for added support. For every conventional Ballet class begins with Barre work. The girls are gradually getting used to this contraption and deciding for themselves, just how reliant they must be on the barre.

Our demonstrative teaching continues. Because, once they're off the barre, they must learn to dance free of it, in the centre.

Anyway, this Outreach has been tiring. Advanced training, any step up for that matter, feels like it's pulling one many steps behind, because a universe of hardship, new challenges and seemingly unattainable movement goals suddenly appear. We will have to rewire to become friends with our Art again. Or may be, with enough hours put in and impetus, our dance will flow, many notches higher, more Classically than ever!