Nilima Devi is a professional Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer who established a dance institution at Leicester .Prof Geetha Upadhyaya writes about Nilima Devi for Asian Lite News, the best newspaper for British Asians
Trained in India in the Jaipur style of Kathak, Nilima Devi moved to Germany to become a professional Kathak dancer, teacher and choreographer. Later, on moving to Leicester, Nilima was surprised to find that there were no Indian dance institutions despite the city being habited by people of south Asian background.
This prompted Nilima to establish Centre for Classical Indian Dance (CICD), a dance studio where she shared her artistic skills and now, it is a reputed centre for Kathak.
The vision of CICD is to educate people in Indian dance forms with a focus on Kathak. The course is effectively delivered through accredited learning, performances and leture demonstrations.
Through strong partnerships, CICD delivered a range of dance workshops in Leicester schools and also trained talented young British-born dancers to produce a rich repertoire of work, which was presented at national and international level.
CICD is involved in mentoring and training community dance leaders and teachers in collaboration with musicians and other artists. With a long tradition of showcasing its work annually, CICD’s new dance showcase, ‘Nrittya Parva’ was produced for dance students at various levels of learning.
Recently, in partnership with Leicester Museum Services and Leicestershire Records Office, CICD produced an online dance archive ‘Abhilekh’ and The Life story of Mrs Nilima Devi MBE was sublished by Professor Kiyotaka Sato, a Japanese historian (Tokyo, 2016)
CICD also created a new work ‘Manah Dasha’, based on dance as a healthy exercise for the elderly and individuals with mental health problems. People with mental health issues participated in ‘Manah Dasha’ through dance, music and drumming.
There are many factors challening the growith of classical Indian dance. “The glamorus mixed dance scenarios and razzmatazz of Bollywood of challenge the purity of classical Indian dance today and learning even one classical dance form becomes a very arduous task” feels Nilima.
At times, the changing policies of funding bodies becomes another obstacle for the growth of classical Indian dance. Yet, Nilima believes that the scope for Indian classical dance and music performances in festivals, creating leadership programmes for young dancers and creative partnerships of artistic organisations is promising. The CICD team is multicultural and Nilima’s main challenge is to find a suitable successor who will continue the dedicated work, nurture new talent and create new stars.
Nilima’s latest work ‘Plurality of Abhinaya’, which explores the ancient universal theme of ‘love’, through classical Indian dance and modern poetry will be premiered at Nottingham’s Lakeside Arts Centre on 3rd July at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts.
(Article written by Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya. Prof. Geetha is Asian Lite’s Health & Culture advisor. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org)