"A dance of dazzling delight and moving majesty.

Her performance transcends entertainment to enter the realm of epic truths and ancient mythic tales through beauty, grace and power.

Wendy has mastered her craft so completely that viewers young and old are transported to another time and place."

—Jan Seehusen

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STYLES of DANCE

A wide-ranging background of training and experience makes Wendy a versatile performer and teacher, bringing the fun, grace and exotic beauty of Indian dance to audiences and students of all levels and ages. She shares the enchanting gestures and engaging sequences of Bollywood to people who have never danced, and just as easily takes students through the discipline of classical Indian dance, in the style of Kathak.

KATHAK / BOLLYWOOD / SACRED IMPROV / FUSION


Kathak

Kathak is the classical dance of North India, famous for its fancy footwork and fast spins. Like all the major dances of India, Kathak has two main aspects: a storytelling aspect, called abinaya, and a purely rhythmic aspect, called Nritta.

“Kathak” means storyteller. Thousands of years ago, a narrative form of dramatizing the myths and stories of India’s great literature evolved into an essential part of temple and village life. Professional storytellers traveled all over North India presenting their beautiful language of symbolic gestures, called mudras. Using mime and music, they told stories. Even though their art was culturally specific, these timeless mudras and poses invoke universally understood human emotions.

The Sanskrit word for emotional aesthetics is rasa. Nine rasas are defined in the range of human emotion: love, joy, wonder, peace, anger, courage, sadness, fear and disgust. These are nuanced further, into subtle characteristics within each one. The refined and fluid movements of Kathak—graceful and natural—are in and of themselves in service of rasa. However they are invoked more consciously in the storytelling side of the dance, which includes a tradition of dancing to the famous poems of Binda Din Maharaj, Jayadeva, and Kabir.


Photo by Werner Elmker  Costumes and dance inspired by Madhubala's performance as Anarkali in Mughal E Azam when she dances to "Pyar Kia To Darna Kiya."  

 During the 700-year reign of the Persian Kings, Kathak blossomed as a virtuoso dance, reflecting a cultural renaissance that took place during that time and within the royal courts. In a highly artistic atmosphere, which saw kings who were, themselves, dancer/poets and musicians, many new embellishments found their way into the dance that became Kathak. Formal techniques and formats became codified. Three main features characterize this technical aspect of the dance: An incredibly fluid language of movement, mesmerizing footwork; and the recitation of syllables called “bols”, which is an art in itself.

Primarily danced to a 16-beat measure, Kathak footwork (tatkar) emphasizes rhythmic cycles, which culminate in the “sam” (pronounced “sum”). The sam is the last beat of one rhythmic cycle and the first beat of the next cycle.

Dances are often recited before they are danced, especially when the music is live. The movements, footwork and the recited syllables (bols) of each dance correspond directly to the beats of the tabla or pacawaj—the percussion. Delightful sounds like Takita Takita Dina Dina are much more descriptive and charming than counting 1 2 3 4. The tabla players who accompany Kathak dance are also highly adept at this recitation, which forms the basis of their musical knowledge, as well as the basis of Kathak dances.

Indian and Persian music and culture have blended together in this exquisite and expressive dance-art, which is said to be the origin of Flamenco and the first dances of the Spanish Gypsies who migrated from India. Kathak has also inspired Celtic traditions, and even modern and jazz dance styles. Kathak is also one of the classical traditions that became the basis for Bollywood dance, the huge and magnificent music and dance numbers that are featured in the Hindi films known today as Bollywood films.  Here is a sample of traditional, pure Kathak 

 

Kathak Meets Bollywood

“With bollywood dancing, I get to bring Indian dance to many more people and share the contagious joy of a style that is many styles at once. Bollywood dancing has given my dance wings! I have more to create with and at the same time can bring accessible dances to people interested not in dance as a life-long discipline, but as a path to health, happiness and community. From deeply sensual to playful, from cheesy to fascinating and mysterious…it's all there and we’re having a blast!”

Bollywood

Dance, mime, intoxicating music, and the dazzling color of the big screen come together in Bollywood, where many elements find their way into the bounding, bouncing, slithering, endless range of possibilities in this dance that is so many dances rolled into one. When you join the world of Bollywood, you get to act as well as dance. Bollywood offers a vast repertoire of songs and themes to draw on, and choreography can be as simple or as intricate as you like.

Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), Maharashtra, India. ... Bollywood today is a lot like hip hop, but Indian-flavored. The dancing in Bollywood films, especially older ones, is primarily modeled on Indian dance: classical dance styles, dances of historic northern Indian courtesans (tawaif), or folk dances. In modern films, Indian dance elements often blend with Western dance styles (as seen on MTV or in Broadway musicals), though it isn't unusual to see Western pop and pure classical dance numbers side by side in the same film. —from Wikipedia

The Bollywood film industry makes three times the number of movies per year that Hollywood does. Serious Indian cinema is a separate or overlapping genre, while Bollywood specifially refers to the movies that feature dance numbers related to the plot in some logical or illogical way. A large group of dancers doing the same move is very charming, even if the choreography is fairly simple. Some of the dances are outrageous and complex.

Check out BollywoodIowa's Facebook page for posts of fun dances >

"Wendy is fabulous to watch and so full of contagious energy and bliss. The music is exciting and heartful and impossible not to dance to. The class is just the right combination of new and repeated moves, so we progress yet always get into a groove of moving that lets us let go.”
 

 


Bollywood Aerobics

Bollywood brings sparkle and joy to working out, and is a welcome break from reality for many. Come join us!
Class schedule >


 Improv

Wendy also incorporates improvisation into her performance repertoire. The more dance languages available to draw from, the more spontaneity can be trusted to create something beautiful, interesting, dynamic and transforming. The goal is to be “danced by the Divine” and bring beauty to eyes and hearts. Dance is reverence, bliss, science, emotion, integration, catharsis, actualization, freedom and love.


Fusion and Creative Choreography 



 

You Tube Fusion Video


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