Shrishti Gandhi

Shrishti's experience of Akaar 2024

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Shrishti Gandhi has been a student of Sonia Sabri Company since 2019. She has performed for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Ward End park, danced alongside other community dancers in the Diwali celebration ‘Share the Light’ at the Birmingham Bullring, showcased Kathak at Sampad’s annual Asian Spring's celebration, and has recently toured professionally with the company in their latest project Mughal Miniatures: The Peacock and the Princess.

It will Be Shrishti’s third time performing at Sonia Sabri Company’s annual showcase, Akaar. Here’s what she had to say about her experience so far:

‘I am performing in two pieces in this year’s Akaar. The first is the opening piece for the dance portion of the showcase and aims to create a visceral experience for the audience through Kathak movements which are slow and require immense body control. The piece is choreographed around an instrumental track and focuses on depicting meditative vibes, centred around the aspect of healing, and emoting through dance and expressions (abhinaya). The second piece follows on from the opening and displays the other aspect of Kathak – fast movements, moving with the tempo of the music, and showing skills such as footwork, spins, group coordination etc. The second piece is a Tarana (technical piece) centred around a popular Bollywood film track.

I have really enjoyed learning new choreography but also challenging myself during this learning process. There are various aspects of both dance sequences which I find difficult, but I enjoy having a goal to work towards and building my strength to be able to execute movements/sequences to my best ability. I have also really enjoyed working with my peers in class to better understand movements and practice together during/outside of class. The community setting and atmosphere enhances the learning experience and makes it more fun, acting also as a motivation to continue with practice outside of class hours. Dancing to familiar tracks is also nice as you learn to appreciate the music in a new way, understanding the counts of the music and matching this with your choreography.

I think Akaar has definitely improved my discipline with practise and incorporating dance into my daily activities. As I have a showcase to work towards, I am more focused on my Riyaaz (practise) and setting myself goals to achieve regarding the sequences within the choreography which I find more difficult to execute. Overall, the class time and environment within the studio is also very beneficial as a welcoming atmosphere has been fostered. Students can feel comfortable in asking questions where they do not understand and so can further improve their Kathak experience. Generally, I also strongly believe Kathak overall, including preparing for Akaar 2024, has massively improved by self-confidence and appreciation for myself, which I believe has positively affected my attitude towards many other aspects of life, extending beyond weekly classes.

Shrishti with fellow kathakaars (bottom right, second person in) Photo credit: Irina Mackie

I think the emphasis on showcasing South Asian arts and talent is really special as it shines a light on artists which otherwise may not be given such a reputable platform to display and share their work. I also think the wide variety of talent which is showcased is really interesting for the audience to watch and get a glimpse of what music and dance within South Asia is. It is also very accessible and so is able to reach more people to spread the joy of dance and music.

The performers have dedicated a lot of time and effort into their craft and we would be grateful to have an audience to present this to. I think it would be a very enjoyable evening for families who choose to experience the plethora of South Asian arts with the performers. There are beautiful dance sequences which will be performed, and it is definitely not a night to be missed!’

Want to book your tickets for Akaar? Click the link below
Akaar 2024 Tickets, Sun 17 Mar 2024 at 17:00 | Eventbrite

Top image: Shrishti performing as the Princess in MM. Photo credit: Simon Richardson