We run a weekly dance class for girls on Saturdays. We teach both folk and classical genres. Like the boys’ Chhou dance, practising and performing their local dances instill a sense of pride and confidence in both the children and the audiences they perform for.
At our school we give the boys a chance to learn Chhou dance, which is the most important folk dance of Purulia. This dance is performed solely by boys so it gives no opportunity for girls to express themselves through dance. However we see that it is equally important for girls to be able to express themselves through dance. In ancient times there would always be a stage in the centre of a village which served as a centre for the whole of the community. In our village tradition, every night after The dinner the sons and daughters of our ancestors would dance together on the stage. For the villagers it was both their main nightly entertainment and an occasion to meet other people in their in a relaxed setting.
Women have a big part to play in our festivals and our worship, and dance plays a vital part in both. Without the participation of girls and women the dances in these ceremonies are incomplete.
The festivals that make up our folk culture, such as Karam Jawa, Tusu and Vadhu, all feature dance with the participation of women. But with the advent of modern civilization any of our aspects of our fold heritage are disappearing. Chhou and other male focused dance are surviving somehow but women’s folk dancing is in danger of dying out.
Our aim is to preserve and save our women’s dance, which serves as a pillar of our culture and way of life. We teach our girls Karam, Jawa, Vadhu and Tusu. The village girls want very much to learn these dances. Previously there had been no school or government support for these dances. In parallel we also teach our girls Indian classical dance such as Bharatnatyam and Kuchipuri.
As the village girls are too poor to be able to afford this training otherwise, we offer the classes to these young people free of charge. Their teacher comes out from Purulia town once a week and there are about 30 girls in the classes. They have been running for four years now and have been a big success.