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Dancing to 2020... the way we did in 1920

The future of traditional dances may hang in the balance if more is not done to educate and revive the dances of old by generations to come

Nalini Sousa   28 December 2012

December is the month of weddings. My noticeboard in the kitchen was pegged with invitations arranged date wise so as not to miss any. In the first fortnight of December I had one such wedding. As I was beginning to dine, next to the stage,  slowly savouring the food, I heard the DJ announcing that they would now play a Mando and requested all the family members, as well as the bride and groom, to gather at the dance floor. I was quite excited about it because I had a Mando written for my wedding and that was the first dance I danced with my husband. It is a very old tradition that has been followed for years in Goa; but to my surprise, at this wedding, I had a bunch of people jumping all around, clapping hands to the sound of a kind of Konkani rock song with lyrics of a Mando!

“This is what I call –murdering the Mando” – I told my husband. In my opinion all weddings don’t have to follow such traditions, but if they want to include this dance, do it the right way. I also wonder how many of the guests really knew what was happening.

Another experience I had was with the schools in Goa. Having launched the DVD “Dances of Goa” recently I thought it would be interesting to take these dances to the schools. I picked up nine schools from different talukas of Goa and tried to find out what   knowledge these students had regarding traditional Goan dances such as Ghodemodni, Morulo, Fugdi etc. To my surprise many thought that Corridinho was a traditional Goan dance. And even more surprisingly they didn’t know it was brought by the Portuguese to Goa. When I asked them from where, some told me Spain, Argentina, France etc.  Is it important to know it? I do think so. All these dances, including Corridinho are part of our history, of our culture. The latter was recently introduced when compared to other dances such as Tonya Mell or Taalgadi which have been part of our folklore for more than 500 years.

Fortunately many of these dances are still seen once a year during the Shigmo parade in the cities. They are not danced like they would in the villages, but at least people are aware that they do exist.

We should do a lot more for these dances aside from the Shigmo parade and the Dhalo and Mando competitions that Kala Academy organizes amongst other activities.

An easy way to keep them alive is through the annual day in the schools. When I asked the students what traditional dances they had performed during the main functions of the schools, most of them spoke about Fugdi, very few about Ghodemodni and only one about Goff.

The Art and Culture department is doing a great job appointing a teacher that goes to schools once a week to teach about Goan culture, but they should reach out to each and every school and impart the ‘know how’ to perform traditional dances during the school functions. I met some of them during my visit to schools and they seem very well prepared and enthusiastic enough to teach these kids.

You might ask, “But aren’t these dances too boring for the kids? Wouldn’t they prefer to dance a Bollywood jig?. You might be surprised, but when I showed them Jaagor being performed, the kids were laughing so much and were so amused by it. Not only because of the performances but also because in this form of theatre, women are not allowed to perform, and the students were very amused seeing men dressed as women dancing and singing. When I asked them, what dance would they like to dance for the next annual day, many told me Jaagor.

Since Goa is also very tourist oriented, hotels and restaurants can also help in disseminating these dances by calling artistes to perform all year round. Which foreigner would not like to see dances characteristic and originally Goan? They will surely take a bit of the sun along with the sound of the Dhol in their heart.

Traditional dances do have a future. It is up to us to preserve, disseminate and teach future generations this vital bit of our culture.

Of Goan lineage, Nalini moved to Goa in 1998. She is a multi-faceted personality who delves wholehartedly into many projects and activities in media and education. She was directed, anchored and produced over 100 episodes of the series “Contacto Goa” For RTPi. Besides producing short films for IFFI and series for local television under the Lotus Films & TV Production banner, Nalini has been in the midst of most things Indo-Portuguese including owning a shop, ‘A Nau’. She is the president of Communicare Trust and head of Lotus Libri, a publishing enterprise. She is married to Dr. Bossuet Afonso and has two children, Anish and Maya

Vision 2020

  • An easy way to keep traditional dances alive is through the annual day in the schools. When I asked the students what traditional dances they had performed during the main functions of the schools, most of them spoke about Fugdi, very few about Ghodemodni and only one about Goff
  • The Art and Culture department is doing a great job appointing a teacher that goes to schools once a week to teach about Goan culture, but they should reach out to each and every school and impart the ‘know how’ to perform traditional dances during the school functions

  • Ghodemodni: Ghodemodni is a warrior dance where legends of bravery are re-enacted. Like many other dances, it is performed during the Hindu festival of Shigmo.
  • Morulo: The national bird of India, has this dance dedicated to it. Sarwan, where this peacock dance was recorded, is of special significance, even though this dance is performed in many other talukas of Goa.
  • Fugdi: Fugdi is a dance performed by the Hindu, Christian and tribal communities, during the Dhalo festival .Amongst traditional dances, this is one that does not need any musical instruments.
  • Tonya Mell: It is performed in Canacona. The etymology of the name of the folk dance Tonya mell comes from two words, ‘Tonyo’ or ‘toni’ which means a stick and Mell which means a collection of dancers. Although this dance is a popular dance form of the Kulmi community, members of other communities take part in it
  • Taalgadi:  Taal means rhythm and Gadi means man. Dancers wear a tight dhoti and a turban decorated with flowers. Three branches are attached to this head gear.

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