Revels ’16: Footloose
Hand in hand, chest to chest or toe to toe – Footloose has something to float everyone’s boat. It’s where they come to let their hair down, shake a leg and more. From ‘Mujra’ on Gangnam Style to a routine on Hedwig’s theme, the dance category’s seen it all. Need we say more?
Most dancers are riddled with the thoughts of staging a performance so infectious that it elicits a roaring applause, and an equally contagious standing ovation. Such dancers made their way to Moonwalk which was the first dance event of Revels ’16, under the Footloose category.
Moonwalk was a solo event that featured only western-styled dance performers. For the entire duration of the competition, the Quadrangle was abuzz with dance tunes that ranged from animatronic voices, to funky South Indian beats. Contestants were given a stipulated time of six minutes for their performance, and were judged solely on their adopted routine.
The participants who hailed from different institutions of the country, showcased their moves which were often reciprocated with excited hoots, and shrieks from the spectators. While all of the participants exhibited high levels of competency, and vigour, most of them failed to inculcate unique steps in their choreography , and the event as a whole lacked authenticity.
The dance tracks would often contain cleverly remixed television jingles, and movie dialogues to keep the audience engaged. One performer also went to the extent of enacting the opening monologue from the movie ‘Deadpool’. Although the event was an undoubted source of entertainment, and while dance is often considered a justification for the same, it must also serve as a form of expression at any instance of time.
Hosted at the quadrangle, a large crowd had gathered for the Western Dance event, Groove, comprised mostly of students who had come to show their support for their college’s dance team.
One of the teams comprised only of girls and while the energy in their routine was praiseworthy, their routine consisted mostly of sensual movements and not much of anything else. Another team danced to Coldplay’s ‘Sky Full of Stars’ as a part of their sequence. Being a relatively slow song, this was a rather different choice for a song and they pulled it off with beauty and grace. VIT’s dance group received overwhelming support from the crowd, almost as much as MIT’s Blitzkreig and Showstoppers. They entered the stage wearing masks and their sequence consisted of fascinating robotic moves and stunts. Blitzkreig too performed some breath taking stunts, they formed a human pyramid composed of three levels. Showstoppers’ routine transitioned from a beautiful slow dance to a highly energetic sequence involving faster songs. Almost all the teams danced to Nucleya’s mixes, getting everyone even more excited for Saturday’s awaited Pro Show event.
The judges, Ravindra Singh and Eric, came up on stage to give the teams a few pointers. Singh elaborated on the meaning of Hip Hop. ‘Hip refers to oneself, and it means that this dance form should come from yourself and cannot be copied’, he said. Eric also mentioned that the way you interact with your teammates and carry your costumes while dancing matters a lot. After lauding all the participating teams for a worthy effort, the winners were announced. MIT’s Blitzkrieg came first, while VIT was the runner up. The event ended with an impromptu dance-off between these two teams and both proved that they can indeed get the ‘Groove’ going.
Nach Le Ve
With a desolate, nearly empty Quadrangle and the sweltering afternoon heat, things did not look good from the get go. Nach Le Ve, the eastern solo category of Footloose, started exactly an hour late. When the event finally did kick off, a weak cheer went up from the gathered handful, only to fade into stunned silence. Some participants had misunderstood the nature of the expected performances, and had resorted to grooving to sleazy old Hindi item numbers.
The event took an interesting turn, however, when the first male participant took the stage. His strangely animalistic moves to tribal drumbeats marked the beginning of an unexpected array of incidents. Contemporary dancers made full use of the areas of the stage that had been left feeling alone. It was after Mani Badul from VIT took over, that the audience finally got goose bumps. His dance highlighted the pain of a son who had lost his mother due to a phone call she made while driving.
Things were finally getting on track when the unthinkable happened. A participant, in the midst of an enthusiastic semi classical dance performance, dislocated his shoulder and fell to the ground in excruciating pain. While an intrigued crowd gathered around the hurt participant, a few calls for help were made to the vigilance volunteers and the mishap was smoothly handled. An ambulance was called in and the casualty was taken to KMC. The event continued after the incident displaying the true spirit of dance. After all, the show must go on.
The first position went to Urbi Chanda of SOC, Manipal while Mani Badul of VIT secured the second place.
On Day 2 of Revels’16, the Quadrangle hosted two Footloose events one after the other. ‘Desi Tadka’, the Eastern Group Dance event that followed Nach Le Ve, kept Academic Block 1 engaged for the latter half of the afternoon. With the efforts of a synchronized crew of organizers, the eight registered teams waltzed, rather executed, the versatile classic ‘thumka’ through the event. The timbre of the music literally rattled the windows before spilling out of the quadrangle and drawing people to the event. Although, the afternoon sun got the better of the spectators, the venue began filling up after the event gained momentum.
Each team’s routine was better than the other but MIT’s Showstoppers stole the show and eventually went ahead to win the event. Their routine was centered on the Revels’16 theme ‘Daastan’ and they used Kathak and Bhangra to tell a story. Arpit Garg, a second year student from MIT and a part of the winning team particularly stood out with his graceful, limber moves and robust expressions. The performance invited plenty of hoo-ha from the entire quadrangle and even other participants, who belonged to ICAS and VIT among others.
“We’ve conducted this event in the past years but never has it sailed this smoothly. We did have a one-hour delay because a participant injured himself during Nach Le Ve”, Suchira Basu, the event head for ‘Desi Tadka’ was quoted as saying. With even faculty flooding the balconies to catch a glimpse of the dancers, the event was unequivocally popular and remained a highlight on the second day.
Two of a Kind
Ancient Chinese philosophy posits that yin and yang are the two forces that create perfect symmetry within the universe by their contiguous interaction with each other. Dance is a brilliant example of this masquerade of beauty onto the stage, and like the proverbial name of the category that speaks of the same name, Footloose’s Two of a Kind went on to prove just the same.
After a late start of about an hour, Two of a Kind took to a surprisingly good response as time progressed. Once the event began, there was no looking back. The event gained momentum after a few disappointing performances in the beginning. The first round saw almost twenty participants facing off against each other in the duration of four minutes each. Crowd support was punctuated in disorder with support for teams from VIT getting very noisy and often disturbing. Round 2 saw just ten teams show off their dancing expertise in an even narrower time frame.
On the larger scale, performances were often disconnected and unsynchronized but got better as the event progressed. There were performances that were brilliant, like when a dancer defied gravity to lift his partner up in the air and when another pair symbolized their motion is perfect harmony. The general theme addressed by most of the teams revolved around first love, and some others were about friendship. Of particular interest was the team from VIT whose piece was electric and graceful at the same time.
Two of a Kind captured the raw energy of a duet dance item in style. Some routines were overdrawn while some were clearly graceful and stands as one of the better formed events in the Revels even though the first looks were not so attractive. Two of a Kind was enticing, and is the hallmark of the category.
“What if you’re right, and they’re wrong?”
– ‘Fargo’ (Season 1, Episode 1)
It’s hard being analog in a digital world, and it’s harder being classical in a “coming of age” fest. ‘Nrityanjali’ from Footloose stood as one of those rare events that wasn’t popular but maintained its power and dignity despite that.
The last day of Revels ’16 saw one of the most beautiful women festooning the AC Seminar Hall in a show of strength. The classical solo dance event had a low attendance audience-wise, but stayed true to its roots. The participants displayed stellar technique and conveyed rich stories with every sway and sharp turn.
In spirit, ‘Nrityanjali’ was similar to ‘Center Stage’ in that it aimed at divorcing art from social acceptance and popularity. Neither of the events had the attendance you’d expect, but the people taking part and the organizers maintained their composure and went on stage with only one thing in mind – their own art. The grace and poise they exhibited despite being laden with sartorial extremes was proof of the same.
Some of the expressions they maintained could have put Dramebaaz to shame, because dance dramas are that much harder with little to no support from the audience. They carried on, beautiful, undaunted, strong, and expressive. We really hope that events in classical dance don’t suffer the axe due to lack of participation in the future. As Charles Ma (celebrated Bharatnatyam dancer, TEDx speaker) had put it in the opening ceremony, “Everyone questioned me because I was a boy and because I was Chinese and not South Indian. But I chose not to let it affect me; as should you. Never stop dreaming. Never stop reaching, no matter what they say.”
If you were present near the IC stage on the day 3 of Revels, then the dancers of ‘Step Up’ by Footloose would have definitely caught your eye. The one day, four round event attracted the biggest crowd that the IC stage had ever seen during the annual cultural fest. Participants of the event were some of the most energetic beings to have stepped on the stage and were able to gauge the audience’s attention.
The first round was the usual solo dance performance by each of the contender on some of the quirkiest songs. The list included soundtracks like The Flinstones’s title track, Dragon Ball Z theme and Ed, Ed and Eddy title song. Props like an umbrella and an earthen pot were used Round two of the contest. Two competitors at a time contested in the second round, out of which only one was selected. Consequently, only two contestants faced off in the final round, which was the longest and the most strenuous one.
The event was complimented by impromptu singing performances and ‘dance-off’s from the spectators’ side. The competition was nail biting till the final round and the audience remained in a fix. Blitzkrieg emerged as the major contributor for event in terms of participants as well as the hoots from the audience.