The Asian African community in Kenya is a minority group of people with a population of about 100,000. The community has in the past and present been dynamic, politically, socially and has consistently flourished economically (Salvadori: 1989). To many they have been labeled as ‘the backbone of Kenya’.
Day to day activities are still steeped in deeply rooted cultural south Asian traditions. Classical Indian Dance with it’s various styles and forms dates back to 400 BC. In Kenya Bharatanatyam-Tamil Classical Dance is taught to teenage girls at the Kamini School of Dancing. Once a year the girls will perform to parents and guests at the Oshwal High School in Nairobi.
Kamini was passionate about dance, music and fine arts from a very young age and after finishing her primary and secondary schooling in Nairobi, Kenya continued to pursue a Bachelor in Music Degree in Baroda, India specializing in Bharat Natyam.
Bharat Natyam is a South Indian classical style of dancing which is known for its grace, purity, tenderness and sculpturesque poses. She went further on an attained her Masters degree in music which she completeled in 1975 and returned home in Nairobi, Kenya.
She showcased her talents by doing her own arrangetram at City Hall in Nairobi, Kenya with a band of live musicians specially flown from India for the performance.
Sharing dance and culture was at the forefront of her plans and by having a solid background in Indian classical dancing it was time to take the next step. With no formal or systematic Indian classical dancing school in Kenya, there was definitely an opportunity there, but identifying that was only the beginning of the journey.
Dedication and discipline were the most important values she had adopted while learning dance at the highest level. Incorporating these core values in her students as well as a strong awareness of the rich Indian heritage that went along with form of dance and performing arts.
Kamini’s School of dancing
Students enroll at the age of 5 and up for the beginner’s class. The main course work is training in Indian Classical Dancing, in Bharat Natyam style, the classical style of South India.
Every student is expected to attend 2 lessons per week of one hour each. Classes start from Grade 1; which is beginners class to Grade 8 , when the student graduates.
Students are promoted to the next grade only after the assessment test taken annually, and then they pass the required standard, The parents are then invited to view the TEST and how they have progressed. Students are given certificates for every grade they pass.
The school hols shows annually where every student participates. Depending on the theme of the show, the student is taught various types of dances; contemporary, fusion, folk and Bollywood.
Senior girls also get training in choreography. When the student graduates, they are sure to be competent, confident and graceful dancers.