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A Traditional Indian Dance Expo

By Thursday, February 26, 2015 ,

The evening of the first full day we spent in India, my colleague and I walked down the promenade by the Bay of Bengal. Traffic is closed along the broad street after 6pm, and without the din of traffic you can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. Groups of friends, couples and families walk up and down the promenade enjoying the respite from the heat of the day (even in winter it was reaching 80F/27C most days, and was quite humid).

We stumbled across a large building with a cloth or tarp facade hanging in front of it, printed to make it look like a palace. A small stage was set up in front outside, but it was empty as we walked passed it and into the building where people were selling shoes, clothes and small trinkets. I was thinking about buying kurti since my suitcase had been left behind in Dubai and I wanted some fresh clothes, but I was put off by the pushy salesmen (nearly all the seller were men, even those selling women's clothes).

We left without buying anything, just in time for some kind of show. The seats in front of the stage were filling up, and someone was fiddling with a sound board. We were thinking it would probably be live music and stuck around to watch.

Instead of instruments, there were dancers. Mostly girls, but a few young women and a troupe of men in unbuttoned shirts dancing to more modern Indian pop music. I called them the Bollywood brigade. 

The event was sponsored by the "Puducherry Backward Classes and Minorities Development Corporation". Anyone know what a Backward Class is?

They wore bells on their ankles, called Salangai in Tamil (also called Ghunghroo), and there were many dance moves involving stomping or shaking their feet to sound the bells. Sometimes I thought it didn't go particularly well with the music being played, though.

Even the dancer's eyes were choreographed.

Some of them were quite young and shy.

We went back on the last night of the expo, and caught the very end of a concert where everyone playing and singing was sitting on the floor. Afterwards, there was more dancing, although I kept getting distracted by the other dancers watching:

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  1. Beautiful photos - what luck you happened upon this!

  2. Your photos are so colorful and lively that I imagine the actual dance in motion must have been fantastic.