Longtime readers of this blog know that I like to watch and share no-frills performances that people do in their own homes. I’ve shown such clips in a number of posts, but the one that best displayed my fondness for this sort of thing was Another Mujra in a Different Kitchen. Although it’s been more than three years since I wrote that post, I always knew that I would return with another post containing at least a handful of performances in people’s homes; I just needed the right circumstances to inspire me – or at least to give me an excuse. And now I have found those circumstances because, suddenly, people are posting home-based performances from all over the world.
It is horrible that because of he coronavirus pandemic, nobody feels safe doing public performances right now and nobody would feel safe going to them. (Admittedly, it’s far from the worst of the many horrors that we are experiencing, but it is horrible nonetheless.) Additionally, people are trying to stay in their houses or apartments, removed from the dangers of contagion, as much as they possibly can. It is amusing, though, that these awful circumstances have helped to make videos of home-based performances very trendy in a new way, as long as the performances can be labeled “quarantine” or “lockdown.”
Most of the clips in this post have been labeled “quarantine” or “lockdown” by the people who made them, though, actually, not all of them have. And most of them have nothing to do with pandemic in their content (though there is at least one that certainly does). Nonetheless, I like to think that these videos fit well together in this post. And, completely apart from the issue of lockdowns and quarantines, I am glad that I finally have posted a sequel to that post from a few years ago.
For my first clip here, I am including a dance that was actually created to address the pandemic. This video does not take place in a very modest home environment, and if it is done in a home, it is looks as though it is a special dance studio within that home. Nonetheless, it is labeled as a quarantine dance, and nothing could be more appropriate as a video to open a post even remotely related to quarantines and anti-pandemic lockdowns.
Quoting from the text below the video:
“This is an attempt at conceptualizing our battle against Corona Virus through dance with a foreword by K. K. Shailaja[,] teacher, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Government of Kerala. Dr.Methil Devika (Dance and Music Concept/ Choreography/ Performance/ Musical Arrangement).”
This is part of the government of Kerala’s Break the Chain campaign, which put out many videos to build up awareness about how to protect against the coronavirus. (Incidentally, the government of Kerala has gotten a very good reputation for the way it’s handled the pandemic. I don’t think as much could be said regarding the rest of India or, especially, my own town, New York City, U.S.A.) There are other dance videos in the series as well as music videos and small comedies and dramas, but I found this one to be the most aesthetically pleasing among the bunch that I watched. For one thing, this dance goes a bit further beyond the purpose of literal instruction than the other videos do. For instance, the song here begins with lines from an 18th century poem, and the coronavirus is “personified” as a classic demon. (You will see more about that as you watch the video, since there is a very nice explanation written in English, along with English subtitles.) The Mohinyattam dance, itself, is also quite beautiful to watch, which is not surprising, since it is performed by Methil Devika, a somewhat renowned dancer and dance scholar.
Continuing with the demon-slaying theme, I liked stumbling upon this semi-classical dance by Subhashree, performed to a song about Aigiri Nandi,. (By the way, I did not immediately recognize the subject of this song – or, rather, the story behind it – though I might have known it at some time. So I did a quick check in the definitions in Google, which told me that “it is about Goddess Parvathi in her Durga avatar, where she kills the demon Mahishasur.”) I don’t know anything about this dancer, but I assume that she must have some experience as a dance teacher, since her channel title is “Dance Odissi With Subhashree” and her “About” section says, “This channel is designed to teach you Indian traditional and Semi classical dances.” I also am not completely sure that this is supposed to be a “lockdown” or “quarantine” video, because I have not seen any mention of that in the description. But the video was made just a few days ago, and it definitely looks as though it was made in her home. And it certainly is a good follow-up to the first video here! Let Mahishasur also be a personification of the virus!
Moving into an entirely different direction, here’s the video that stars the most famous person you will find in this post. That dancer dressed in blue is Janhvi Kapoor, daughter of Boni Kapoor and the very-much-missed Sridevi. I understand that Janhvi has started to acquire some well-regarded film credits of her own, too.
The second dancer in this video is apparently Janhvi’s choreographer and teacher/trainer, Charvi Bhardwaj. (By the way, this is information that I am adding a week after this post first went up. See the comments section if you are curious about the discussions that finally led to this conclusion.)
The physical environment for this dance is also little more fancy than the kind that I generally want to feature in this sort of post, and even though there is a couch here, I wonder if, as in the first video, we are looking at some sort of dance studio built into an elaborate home. Nonetheless, it is very clearly an at-home production, also specified as a dance done during quarantine. And it is very nice.
There are other, longer dance clips on YouTube that are obviously from the same session, but I found this one-minute performance to be the nicest. Maybe part of the reason for that is the song that they’ve chosen, an old one that was danced to by Waheeda Rehman in 1965, in Guide.
The next dance is done in more of the modest kind of environment that I think about when I want to watch dances in people’s homes. (It’s a nice little room – attractive drapes and windows and a decent-looking couch.) I also always enjoy Kathak “pure” dance segments involving rhythms and footwork and I found this one to be quite charming and good. (It would have been nice if we had gotten better camera angles so that we could see the feet more during the footwork, but since this is obviously a no-frills video without professional production, I would not expect perfection in that area here.)
While the dancer, Pooja Tiwari, is obviously not a famous film dancer, she does have some professional dance experience, which includes teaching, dancing on TV shows, and doing choreography. She is also actually a resident of the U.S., having moved to Quincy, Massachusetts back in 2009. And by the way, if you are wondering how I know all this, it’s because I read the About page on her website.
I felt that I should not put together this post without including at least one Bharatanatyam video, so I am glad I found the one that follows. I also am pleased that I found a dance in a small, modest room that is so well put together. I like the combination of colors, the furniture arrangement and, here too, the drapes! Plus, the dance is certainly nice to watch. I do not know anything about this dancer, Shivani Mhatre, except, looking at another video of hers on YouTube, I see that she danced in a performance at Thakur Polytechnic. (That one is dated March 27, though it must be from sometime farther back – unless these students got to get a dance performance in right before the lockdown started.) I hope that we will get to see many more dances from her in the future.
When we’re looking for stay-at-home videos or “quarantine”/”lockdown” videos, rooftops are just as legitimate as any other environment, and sometimes they make for the nicest setting in the modest vein. I’ve posted some rooftop videos before, but this is the first time that I have found – and am posting – a nighttime rooftop silhouette clip. This is certainly a different approach, and I do like it. I have seen this technique used in a few vintage films, but I do not recall ever seeing this done in a simple video filmed on top of someone’s home! And since it is labeled a “quarantine video,” I might add that among the “quarantine videos,” this one’s particularly unique. The dancer, Arpita Verma, is pretty good, too. I don’t know anything about her, except that she’s a choreographer as well as a dancer and has posted a few good dances on YouTube. The song is not so unique, since it’s another one of those popular film songs from the past couple of decades that a lot of people like to refer to. (I have never seen My Name Is Khan, which came out in 2010. I suppose I should sometime.) But it’s not a bad song, either.
And I will conclude here, having posted the same number of videos that I did the last time I put up this kind of post. (Actually, in the last one, I added one more video slightly later as a P.S. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of doing that here as well.) I hope that at least some people enjoy this kind of post, because I am thinking about doing this more often, creating a series of sorts. At the very least, I hope that some people found this to be a pleasant distraction, especially considering that under the present circumstances, we all can use as many pleasant distractions as we can find.
P.S. One of these days when I do another of these posts, I’ll find a way to include a male dancer or two. I just haven’t found any home-based clips with male dancers that I liked enough, especially not in the classical or semi-classical genres, which is where I am keeping the focus here. (I saw a couple of “lockdown” clips starring guys who were pretty good dancers, but they were doing a more modern and free-form kind of thing.) I will keep an eye out, though.