An international dance artist from Portugal, Chantelle Gomez has dedicated her life to dance since moving to India in 2008, to train intensely in odissi. Her other dance passions include mystical Persian dance and tribal fusion belly dance. In the next Navhind Times workshop, she will be sharing her knowledge of these dance forms with participants through practical sessions. Slated for Sunday, March 17, at Dempo House, Panaji, the two and half hour workshop is open to those above 16 years of age with no upper age limit. In a chat with NT KURIOCITY, Chantelle speaks about the workshop, her dance, and projects she is involved in
Maria Fernandes | NT KURIOCITY
A multi-disciplinary dance artist, Chantelle is now an official ambassador of odissi and of Indian Performing Arts in Portugal. Dance, she says, is her truth and an expression of her divinity.
- The dance forms you will be teaching sound very exotic. What is the objective of the workshop?
Tribal fusion belly dance and Persian mystical dance are definitely unique. They were born in California, a city that thrives on innovative creative expressions, and by masters who are leaders in the dance art community of the bay area. I’ve travelled to this city to learn from these masters for more than 11 years and I believe it’s time to share this knowledge with the world. It’s an opportunity for people to experience innovative dance art forms.
- The age group for the workshop is above 16 years. Any particular reason for it and who according to you will benefit the most from the workshop?
For one to understand these dance forms it requires a certain level of maturity. Anyone can benefit from it if they are looking for a dance practice that empowers them as humans and connects them with the divine. And if you are curious to experiment ethnic dance then this workshop is just for you.
- Most are aware of belly dance but what makes tribal fusion belly dance different?
Tribal fusion belly dance today is a worldwide movement. It was born in the underground scene of San Francisco, California. It’s a modern style of belly dance that fuses American tribal and American cabaret style belly dance with elements of hip-hop and popping as well as, flamenco, kathak and odissi.
- Can you explain how kathak and odissi are integrated into belly dance?
In Indian fusion belly dance we use very basic steps and stances of kathak to give form to the fusion and use the subtle nuances of odissi such as eye movements and gaze, as well as, sculpturesque poses and embellished mudras.
- Can you elaborate on Persian classical dance?
Persian classical dance is the refined format of all central Asian dances and Armenian ballet. It is a combination of Persian classical dance and Sufi whirling, inspired by the poetry of Rumi. This dance form was created by Miriam Peretz, founder of Nava Dance Collective and Integral Dance. Participants will get an opportunity to learn the techniques of the infinite spiral and Sufi devotional poetry in movement in the session. These cannot be explained in mere words but need to be experienced!
- You have completed your BA in Marketing and the jump to dance is a complete switch. So how did you get attracted to dance, especially Indian classical dance?
Dance has been part of my life since a very young age. I grew up with two cousins who were world champions of Latin American dance in the 90’s and they inspired me to be a dancer. After completing my studies, I came to India to practice yoga and travel. I had a deep desire to explore this land and its culture since my early teens. After two months of yoga practice, I spontaneously wished to learn Indian dance. I found a class of odissi and made the commitment to be there for one month. What made me fall in love with odissi was the way the teacher made us do a puja everyday before we started the practice. Its similarity to yoga and the physical challenge drew me to it. The dance took over me and every year I returned to India to learn more and deepen the practice.
- You have learnt and practice various forms of yoga. Can you share your yoga journey and how it affects your dance?
The yoga journey started in Portugal with a very close friend who had just completed her Teacher training at Shivananda Ashram in Kerala, back in 2002. During my first travel to India in 2008, I went to Rishikesh to practice yoga at the Shivananda Ashram and kept at that practice until I was introduced to tantra yoga at Shri Kali Ashram when it was based in South Goa. It was an incredible journey. In 2014, the owners of Ishavilas in Siolim introduced me to Isha Foundation and Sadhguru. I felt a deep resonance to Sadhguru’s work. I completed the introductory Isha Yoga trainings in Portugal and went deep into the practices at Isha Foundation Centre in Coimbatore in 2018. Yoga helps me to be a better dancer not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Yoga is a holistic science that cultures, strengthens and provides good health of the subconscious mind and physical body, therefore offering any athlete or artist the tools to embody one’s true self in the best way possible.
- As a curator you have various projects to your credit. What is the idea behind your forthcoming project ‘India that inspires me’ which is scheduled to take place in Jaisalmer?
The idea behind the retreat is to offer my experience and knowledge of India and its dance culture based on my 11 years experience of living and traveling in India as a dancer. We have created a programme that gives a thorough introduction to Indian dance in a safe environment with highly qualified and experienced gurus. The ancient teachings of Vedic culture and its mysticism in dance are so valuable and we wish to keep them alive through this retreat.
- Most of the year you live in India and Goa is your second home. What attracted you to make Goa your Indian home?
First and foremost, I chose Goa because I want to live in a place in India where I can be myself completely. Living in nature is a priority too. Then there is the international community of artistes that I’ve known for as long as I’ve been travelling to India, the conscious movement and will of the local alternative community who wish to live a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, the super easy access to organic food and produce, and the beautiful home I live in. I also wish to build a dance school in Siolim.
If you are 16 years and above and would like to join the workshop, log on to navhindtimes.in/events and fill in the application form. Last date for application is March 7. There is no upper age limit