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Friday, May 10, 2002

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Entertainment

Little kids on a big stage


The Raack troupe... in harmony

A SEMI-NEW dance academy had its semi-public unveiling on Sunday last (May 5) at Egmore's beautiful Museum Theatre, with a recital by the Raack (as in ROCK!) Academy of Dance. To the throbbing strains of past and present Hindi and Tamil film favourites, as well as a smattering of western dance divas, kids from tiny to full-size showed what they could do when under the glare of hot theatre lights and an audience.

The results were as should be expected, with individual identities becoming much more readily apparent than their colour-coordinated t-shirts would have let on. Watching the dancers mouth every word to every song, one could easily envision each performer at home, doing grandiose twirls in front of the bedroom mirror while belting out heartbreaking tunes with gusto.

The stage is, of course, a slightly different matter. It was interesting to watch the youngest troupes as the group dynamics initially broke down due to frustration with their mates' lack of timing, before eventually solidifying into little internally prompted commando units that were suddenly learning the face-saving techniques of cooperation. For each group stunned by the limelight, however, there were one or two dancers who clearly came into their own: as part of its programme, Raack offers `creative dancing' courses, wherein dancers can, with the help of staff, work out intricate solo arrangements to let out the glamorous film star (or, one would assume, any other number of dancers) hidden inside. The recital was the end project for the first Raack summer session class, involving 120 kids, which had run for the previous 17 days in various locations around Chennai. With a current staff of around 35, the Academy itself has been around for four years, performing over 300 shows around India — mostly commercial affairs, but also a few artistic collaborations with the likes of Zakir Hussein and U. Srinivas. The instructors themselves took the stage a few times throughout the evening, the high point of which was a tight and moving large troupe interpretation of the haunting music from Taal; this magnificent performance finally raised some thorny questions for me about the distinctions between `dance' and `choreography', but I easily let them drop in the spirit of the evening.

Raack appears to be a young and energetic new dance academy, eager to bring graceful movement to a world of left feet. They can be contacted directly at 647.3466/3470.

C. L. BIRON

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