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These dancers want to make India proud

March 13, 2014 10:42 IST

These dancers want to make India proud

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S Saraswathi

Fifteen women who want to make history. S Saraswathi finds out more.

Have you heard of High Kicks?

The dance ensemble from Chennai has been shortlisted to appear at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Scotland later this year.

High Kicks, conceptualised, created and choreographed by Aparna Nagesh, impressed the artistic director of the Scottish Dance Theatre who was in Chennai as part of British Council India's initiative Impulse so much that he asked Aparna to send a video application to the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival which was selecting performers for the event that will celebrate Glasgow, Scotland's hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Festival director Anna Kenrick liked High Kicks's video application and Aparna and her dancers were chosen.

"Ms Kenrick said she liked our style of global dance fusion," says Aparna.

Aparna and her group of versatile dancers are among nine dance companies chosen from 54 countries across the world.

"I started dancing when I was about 15," says Aparna who has been dancing for 16 years now. "I was with a commercial dance company for about 12 years, then I went to the Broadway Dance Centre in New York for additional training and certification."

"When I came back, I wanted to set up an all-girls ensemble and stage intelligent dance theatre performances. I started off with three dancers; today I have 14 dancers," she says.

"I remember the numb disbelief when Aparna told me we got selected," says Vinithra Madhavan Menon, 21. "It took a while to sink in and now with only a few months between us and the festival, it is sinking in with a wonderful force!"

"Apart from the performance," says Vinithra who will complete her post-graduation in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, in a few months, "there are dance workshops, inter-cultural learning and interacting experience to look forward to."

But will the graceful dancers from High Kicks make it to Glasgow? Please click Next to find out more...


Image: The High Kicks dance troupe that has been shortlisted to perform in Scotland at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival
Photographs: High Kicks

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These dancers want to make India proud

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S Saraswathi

Underneath all the excitement and anticipation, there is also worry.

The cost of travel, accommodation, food and registration is more than what the group can afford.

Since their selection, Aparna says, "We have been speaking to people, carrying around our proposal. Our biggest campaign has been the crowd sourcing fund plan."

"We started the crowd-funding campaign in early January. Since then we have collected about $2,755, which is just 14 per cent of our requirement. Most of the girls will be able to handle the food and accommodation with the funds generated so far," Aparna adds.

Aparna and her group will launch a second round of crowd-funding at indiegogo.com -- a global crowd-funding platform that helped them raise the 2,755 dollars during their first campaign from January 7 to March 7 -- beginning March 16 or 17.

The biggest hurdle is the airfare -- about Rs 65,000 per person. High Kicks is looking for flight sponsors for 15 people.

"With this second effort, we plan to reach out to more people and hope to collect as much as we can of the 20,000 dollars that we require," says Aparna.

The Commonwealth Games committee has offered to sponsor the group's train tickets from London to Glasgow.

"The response from the public," rues Aparna, "has not been very encouraging. Maybe our appeal is just not reaching the right ears."

How you can help these graceful dancers from High Kicks make it to Glasgow: Please click Next to find out more...


Image: Aparna Nagesh, the founder of High Kicks.
Photographs: High Kicks

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S Saraswathi

High Kicks, Aparna says, will represent India as one of two dance companies from the sub-continent.

Also selected from India is a Thiruvananthapuram dance company, predominantly a classical group.

Aparna believes intelligent dance theatre can be a viable career option independent of the movie industry.

"It is important that you don't jump into it," she says. "It requires a little bit of planning and a lot of hard work. It is not as glamorous as it looks on the outside."

"Dance plays a very important part in my life," says High Kicks member Lavanya Shankar, 20, a student of Visual Communication.

"I can't wait to meet dancers from different parts of the world, attend the workshops, perform and just take it all in," says Lavanya.

For Sneha Varma, 20, another Visual Communication student, performing on an international platform is a dream come true.

"Representing India is a huge achievement," says Sneha. "Participating and performing at the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival is a dream come true."

Undeterred by the obstacles, Aparna is determined to give her group this opportunity.

"Not going is not an option," she says. "I want my dancers to have this opportunity. Besides the performance, these four days of learning from dancers across the globe will be a life-changing experience for them."

Do you want to help High Kicks go to Glasgow?

Please e-mail Aparna Nagesh at aparna.nagesh@gmail.com

http://www.showstoppersinc.in


Image: Troupe members from High Kicks.
Photographs: High Kicks

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