Baltic dancers take up Indian dance

  • 2000-05-11
  • By Vineta Lagzdina
RIGA - The fairy tale magic of South Indian traditional dance with its expressive eye, hand and head movements, bells rhythmically jangling on the ankles, was performed by Pille Roosi and Ulle Muurisepp from Tallinn in the recently redesigned small hall at Rigas Technical University cultural center on April 30.

The performance illustrated the devotional and pantomimic style called Bharat Natyam, in beautiful authentic costumes and to the meditative interweaving sounds of Indian drums, voice, flute and strings.

One spectator said that all her pain and stress simply disappeared as she absorbed the good vibes from the dancers.

Roosi has been perfecting Indian dance for 15 years, initially training with a teacher from Moscow. She now teaches various styles at her Tallinn dance studio Amrita, the name meaning "nectar of immortality."

Talking about Bharat Natyam style Roosi said, "Everything is there in the dance itself. There's the physical part, from dynamic movement to silences, also very small precise movements. All moods are clearly defined through the whole range from love, peace, laughter and joy to disgust, anger and fear. And always the spiritual part is most important."

The other dancer, Ulla Muurisepp began learning the Bharat Natyam style nine years ago with Roosi in Tallinn, and continues with study and performance at the Indian cultural institute Bharatia Vidiya Bhavan in London, where she now lives.

Latvian dancer Ilze Zarina invited Roosi and Muurisepp to give a series of workshops and a concert in Riga for Latvians interested in Indian dance traditions, previously introduced to them by the famous Latvian high priestess of Indian classical dance, Vija Vetra, who lives in New York.

Undoubtedly there is interest in Riga and a desire to learn more. Since the 1930s these devotional dances have spread from the temples and courts of India to global stages. Though traditional forms are kept the styles keep developing. There are annual summer schools of Indian dance and traditions in London that encourage international attendance. This introductory performance could further the dialogue between lovers and practitioners of Indian dance in both Latvia and Estonia with more workshops.