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I have been dancing since I was six years old…

Kathak dancer, Atsuko, talks about teaching Kathak in Japan and her very own Tokyo Gharana…
In conversation with Atsuko

When did you begin learning Kathak?

In Japan girls pick up a hobby or an activity when they are six years old, it is said to be the prime age to begin learning something new. Some girls pick up swimming or ballet, music or sports, depending on their taste and preference. Somehow my mum chose Kathak for me and oddly enough I liked it too! I began my training when I was six years old too and ever since I haven't looked back.

When did you first come to India?

I was almost 12 years old when I first visited India. There was a Kathak festival in New Delhi, where I was given the opportunity to perform. I’ve visited about 20 cities in India and each city offered me a different experience.

Your impressions of India…

India has a lot of freedom to offer, Japan on the other hand is quite the opposite. Indians are very open and appreciative of art. I also enjoy going to Kadam Dance Academy because everything is so open there, the classrooms are open and the people are warm and friendly! The sound of loud music is also very soothing, there’s always the tabla or the sarangi playing in the background which has a very calming effect on the mind. Moreover, my guru Kumudiniben gives us a lot of material, everyday she gives us something new to work with. I enjoy coming to India because I look forward to these experiences every year.

Your experience as a Kathak trainer in Japan…

When I am in India I have a lot of classmates, I have my guru and I have musicians. in Japan I am all alone. When I train, I first have to explain Indian classical dances to my students and the importance of Kathak as an art form in India. So I created my own team to make things smoother. In the beginning students would just look at my performance and be intrigued by it. Gradually a lot of them began showing interest in Kathak and were keen enough to learn it themselves.

You have your own gharana…

Yes, I have created my own Gharana, it’s called the Tokyo Gharana. The choreography and dance of my gharana is slightly different and it offers a Japanese touch to it!

To know more about Atsuko

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