Gilles Chuyen - India by the Nile Festival press office. Gilles Chuyen - India by the Nile Festival press office.

The art of spreading happiness through dancing

Tue, Mar. 13, 2018
CAIRO – 13 March 2018: Ila Gupta, producer and organiser of India by the Nile Festival in Egypt, told Egypt Today that this is the sixth edition of the festival here in Egypt.

“The main aim of India by the Nile Festival is to bring the two nations together – the Indian and the Egyptian on a people to people level – by presenting our classical, popular and contemporary Indian arts and culture to Egypt,” Gupta said.

Gupta explained that Egyptians love everything that is Indian, so the festival is keen on bringing to them the true Indian culture and what it entails of classical dance, music, food, yoga, films and Bollywood dance workshops. "We have also done a huge production of Bollywood extravaganza at the Cairo Opera House for three years; the response we got from Egyptians on it was absolutely phenomenal. The festival is bringing the two nations together through culture and art," Gupta stated.

Egyptians are interacting with all the forms of Indian culture, yet Bollywood is considered India's most important export, not only to Egypt but to the whole world. “Egyptians love our iconic artists such as Amitabh Bachchan; that’s why the festival invited him to Egypt two years ago,” Gupta said.

The classical arts of India are hugely appreciated by Egyptians, which was clear from the Egyptian audience’s interaction with legendary Indian Sarod player and musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who launched the first music performance of the annual India by the Nile Festival on Thursday. He played some of well-known Indian classical music at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo. “On Friday, there was a big Indian classical dance performance; it was a full house and the entire audience stood up while clapping their hands,” Gupta added.

Gupta admitted that she can’t point out what exactly Egyptians like more from Indian culture, because “they like everything.” Every year, more people attend and the inquiries about the festival program increase as well. It’s even getting harder for the festival to garner more glory than its previous editions, Gupta remarked.

Gupta added that they have a new challenge every year to bring something better than the previous year, noting that they always aim to get the best of India to Egypt in every edition.

“The new thing in this edition is that we launched for the first time an exclusive fashion segment presented by one of our biggest designers, named Tarounta Heliany, who is going to conduct a seminar to talk about his work and his journey in the fashion field. We are cooperating with Egyptian and Indian models to present his latest collection, but this will be a closed event and not for the public,” Gupta revealed.

Gupta explained that the two nations maintain strong relations because there are plenty of similarities between them. “Indians love Egypt’s folk arts, crafts and heritage,” she recounted. “Egypt has a rich heritage; Egyptian music and textiles are great, and India also has a rich heritage, art and culture, in addition to its distinguished crafts and textiles that will be shown in Taronty Heliany’s collection this year.”

Gupta admitted that there were a lot of doubts recently regarding Egypt’s safety. “We hold this festival in Egypt every year with some of our premium Indian artists to tell the whole world that Egypt is safe,” Gupta announced.

Gupta added, “We love Tanoura performances; we have taken Tanoura to India as well for a performance there two or three times. We also like Egyptian musicians, like the famous Yehia Khalil’s music.” According to Gupta, Indians also love Egyptian belly dancing and percussion performances.

Gupta explained that they love authentic Egyptian food like Koshary, Falafel and beans. “We don’t have enough Egyptian restaurants in India, so we will work to bring more,” Gupta elaborated. She also said that she has taken to India some splendid Egyptian crafts, like ceramics, handmade carpets, Egyptian potteries, lamps, alabaster and a lot of Egyptian souvenirs from Khan el-Khalili, and people in India were dazzled by them.

She added that they are holding this festival in many countries around the world, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.K., South Africa, Zimbabwe, the U.S. and Europe. The festival was first launched more than 20 years ago. Gupta recounted that they have held more than 24 international festivals promoting Indian culture to the whole world. “We love Egypt and we hope every year that the Egyptian audiences will continue to give us the love they give us every year,” Gupta stated.

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Bollywood Dance workshop- India by the Nile Festival Facebook Page

French Bollywood dancing instructor Gilles Chuyen said that he participated in all the previous editions of the India by the Nile Festival in Egypt. He has presented Bollywood dancing workshops and Bollywood musicals. “In the first edition of the festival in Egypt, I created a Bollywood dance musical with the belly dancers of the Cairo Opera House. [Subsequently] I [did other performances] with my dancers,” Chuyen said.

workshop 2

Chuyen explained that he conducted three Bollywood dance shows all over Egypt, including in Cairo, Alexandria and Hurghada, but this year he came to teach Bollywood dance workshops only. “I [have been] teaching Bollywood dancing for 16 years. I also teach yoga, meditation, contemporary dance, modern jazz, flamingo and salsa,” he said.
workshop 3

"I will conduct about seven Bollywood dance workshops in Egypt – one in Alexandria, one in Port Said and five in Cairo – but I change the songs in each workshop," Chuyen said. Chuyen has been living in India for 24 years. When he was in France, he was teaching French folk, ballet, modern jazz, contemporary and other different forms of dance.

workshop 4

“While I was in France, I started exploring a bit of Indian classical dances and Chhau, which is a dance from western India, and suddenly Bollywood dance came my way through the director of the India by the Nile Festival, who got me an offer to create a musical in the Eden Festival in the U.K. in 2002.”

The Eden Festival at that time needed a choreographer. India by the Nile Festival's director had seen some of Chuyen’s work, especially his contemporary dance work, and approached him and asked him to join Eden Festival. “At that time, I knew nothing about Bollywood dances, but I felt so challenged by this proposal and got really excited to discover more about it,” he revealed. At that time, Chuyen was living in India, so he knew he would be able to do it.

workshop 5

Chuyen started watching films and reading critics' points of view to understand what Bollywood dance is. “I discovered that Bollywood dancing contains many styles, some based on Indian classical dances which are called classical Bollywood, while some other forms are more western.”

The Bollywood dance choreography as recounted by Chuyen is a mixture of many things, but the dance movements mainly come from the music. “For example, a Bollywood dance may tell the story of a boy meeting a girl, thus we express such a meeting through the dance movements; it is a musical story that include lifes singing and acting as well.”

Chuyen elaborated that Bollywood dance has different styles; some are inspired by Indian folk dance, some based more on Indian classical dance and some more western with a bit of hip hop, while some depend on salsa and so on. Some Bollywood dances are influenced by both Indian folk dance and western dance.

According to Chuyen, the Indian dance has no specific rules; every state and every part of India has a different dancing style. “What is common in all Indian classical dances is that all of them must tell a story and speak about emotions; the facial expressions, the eyes and the hands must speak about emotions.”

Chuyen explained that every classical dance also has a special meaning. Although Bollywood dance is different from classical dance, it is also a part of Indian culture. A common aspect in both the Indian classical dance and Bollywood dance is that they both tell a story through the body of the dancers.

All Bollywood choreographers’ ultimate goal is to make the audience better remember the dance steps. Most of the time, the movie song that contains the dance is released before the movie; so in most cases, people go to see the movie only because they like the song and the dance, which is why songs and dances are very important for every movie.

Chuyen works mainly on stage; he worked in three movies but as an actor. “There is also a difference between the Bollywood industry as part of the cinema industry and Bollywood dance styles. I teach and make choreography and perform Bollywood dance styles on stage for plays and musicals,” he explained.

Bollywood dances are performed mainly in Indian festivals and weddings. “Dancing, singing and food are the main sources of pleasure in the Indian culture,” Chuyen added.

Bollywood dance is available in general in all Indian celebrations, as well as in schools and universities when they have dance trainings or festivals. “Other than that, pure Bollywood dance shows are not so popular in India; Bollywood dance shows will happen more outside of India,” Chuyen stated. In India, there are very few Bollywood dance shows; people in India go to see the movie and they watch a Bollywood dance in it, but a stage choreography show is a very recent phenomenon.

Bollywood dance is a mood shifter that spreads joy and happiness. Chuyen said, “Bollywood dance is my favorite style to teach, because when I teach it, I really feel the difference between before the workshop and after the workshop. I gain so much joy and excitement; people connect with the child inside themselves while dancing. It really shifts the mood.”

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