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PROFILE: Santosh Menon, Kshetra Dance

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Santosh Menon, Kshetra Dance’ company

‘Kshetra Dance’ company was established by Santosh in 2003 with an aim to promote the traditional Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam & to provide training in a more refined way to all age groups across the UK….writes Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya

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Santosh Menon, Kshetra Dance’ company

When once thinks of Indian classical dance, the genre that springs to mind is the most popular south Indian classical dance – Bharatanatyam.  In the past, the dance was taught mostly by male teachers while the performers were females and hence it was rare to find male dancers.

However, that is not the case now as men are set to change the scene and there are many prominent male dancers worldwide.

One such gifted male dancer is the UK based Santosh Menon who started his dance journey at the age of four with his sister, and father, the late Gemini Gopalakrishnan Nair (disciple of the legendry Uday Shankar).

Continuing his training with Kalamandiram Shymala Ravindren and Kalakshetra Rekha Sanu for 13 years, Santosh pursued his love for dance by joining Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts, Chennai where he obtained his post-graduation in Bharatanatyam and Carnatic Vocal.

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Santosh Menon, Kshetra Dance’ company

He also studied Mohiniattam from Kalamandalam Kshemavathy in Kerala and Gopika Varma, Chennai. His Kuchupudi training was with the legendry Vempatti Chinasatyha and Mosali Kanti Kishor.

Santosh became a guest artist / teacher of Kalakshetra for two years before he moved to Hong Kong as a dance teacher at ‘Yoga Plus’.

Santosh was a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong while serving as the artistic director of ‘Passion India’; a Hong Kong based company, which promoted Indian Classical Dance and Yoga.

‘Kshetra Dance’ company was established by Santosh in 2003 with an aim to promote the traditional Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam & to provide training in a more refined way to all age groups across the UK.

Santosh has performed in prestigious festivals in India, Dubai, Hong Kong and UK. He has also conducted dance workshops in various International schools and Universities in India, Hong Kong, UK and US. At present, he is in UK as a dance teacher, choreographer and performer

Santosh Menon, Kshetra Dance’ company

The company’s mission is to make Bharatanatyam relevant to the 21st Century Britain, increase awareness & appreciation of this beautiful art form by engaging with diverse audiences through narrative that everyone can relate to the unique and inspiring artistic experience.

Santosh is keen to keep the dance to its purest form but creating more diverse adaptation of Indian classical dance achieves its aim by providing regular dance training, workshops in schools & libraries and by producing and promoting performances that reaches culturally diverse communities across the UK.

Kshetra Dance Company teaches Bharatanatyam from beginners level to an advance level including any preparations for the ISTD and professional board exams, training in nattuvangam (training in wielding the cymbals), classical vocal singing, Kuchipudi and Mohinattam.  Santosh works with a variety of artists across the country and in India too.

Kshetra Dance Company plans to collaborate with local charities such as Cancer Awareness UK to produce a performance based on the effects on the families of those afflicted with cancer.

Santosh has experimented with intriguing themes and one of them is the dance drama comparing Darwin’s theory of evolution and the ten incarnations of Vishnu, the Hindu deity.  The ‘Lord of Dance’ created by Santosh with four exuberant male Bharatanatyam dancers won great acclaim in Leeds and London.

‘In Britain, the awareness of the Indian culture and heritage is still low as compared to the Bollywood dance but the purity and integrity of the rich Indian culture can only be portrayed through Indian classical dance and not Bollywood dance. The Indian culture has much to offer and it would be great for Britain’s youth and society to relate with and learn many things from the Indian tradition, culture and mythology and history’ feels Santosh.

Santosh is keen to see better funding and greater opportunities for south Asian arts, especially the small scale companies and wants to work together as it is a sure step to success and also this will increase the awareness and promotion of south Indian classical dance.

Asian Lite wishes Santosh every success in his dancing career!

Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya

Prof. Geetha Upadhyaya, OBE, M.B.B.S., M.D., Ph.D., D.Lett, will writes about arts and culture besides health related articles for Asian Lite. She can be contacted on geetha@asianlite.com )