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A Fusion of Kathak and Beatboxing to Make Dal Tadka!

These artists combine the classical steps of Kathak with the modern beats of beatboxing to demonstrate the recipe of dal tadka. How cool is that!

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Hitanshu Bhatt
New Update
fusion of kathak and beatboxing

In modern times when we are losing the essence of classical Indian art forms, we stumbled upon a beautiful piece that blends various cultures yet represents each one beautifully. Pooja Pant, a Kathak dancer from Mumbai, Maharashtra collaborated with Avinash Tewari (popularly known as Voice of Avi) a beatboxer to produce something that was never seen before. They combined the art of Kathak and beatboxing to explain the recipe for the popular Indian curry dal tadka. Yes, you read it right. The artist shares her journey of creating this piece with Local Samosa. 

Pooja Pant
Kathak dancer Pooja Pant 

When the World Theatre Festival in Manchester extended an invitation for an exchange programme aimed at students under 25, a unique collaboration was born. The festival paired a team from Corby, United Kingdom, with Bread and Butter Co., a company invited from India. Under the guidance of director Medha, this partnership saw the convergence of diverse art forms and creative minds, including the talents of Kathak dancer Pooja Pant and beatboxer Avinash Tiwari.

“Initially, the collaboration faced the challenge of integrating different artistic disciplines, as kathak and beatboxing are completely different art forms,” said Pooja. However, through brainstorming sessions, they came up with a common concept and that was the concept of 'beat.' This spark led to an innovative fusion of kathak dance, beatboxing, and the rhythmic sounds of cooking. The idea was simple yet profound - to explore how these seemingly unrelated elements could harmonize through the universal language of rhythm.

A still from Pooja and Avinash's performance 
A still from Pooja and Avinash's performance 

“I taught Avinash the concept of teen taal and demonstrated how the 16-beat cycle of 'teen taal' in Kathak could be a foundation for their performance,” said the Kathak dancer. Inspired by everyday life and personal experiences, such as learning to make dal tadka, the team saw an opportunity to blend the auditory elements of cooking with the visual and rhythmic aspects of dance and beatboxing. At that point, Pooja was learning how to make dal tadka and thought of mingling this learning of hers into something that she was a pro in.  

The entire project had to be done organically as no props are used in classical dance forms and Pooja had to demonstrate the performance through ‘hastas’ meaning the hand gestures. Avinash contributed by replicating the sounds associated with cooking - from the sizzle of tadka to the chopping of vegetables. Each sound was meticulously timed to fit within the 16-beat cycle, creating a seamless integration of movement and sound.

The resulting performance was not just a dance or a musical piece but a storytelling experience. Adding to the inception of another element that made this marriage more complex and appealing, Pooja said, “Our director enriched the narrative by assigning characters to us where I portrayed a Kathak dancer who makes a living by preparing tiffins, and Avinash, as a dabbawala who comes to collect the tiffin while passing time by reading a newspaper, brought life and context to the performance.”

Reflecting on her learnings from her teachers, Guru Rajashree Shirke and Pandit Arjun Mishra she adds, “You experiment with new things and see where your art form can take you,” on her experience while creating this piece. This collaboration not only highlighted the versatility of Kathak and beatboxing but also celebrated the everyday sounds of life, turning them into a harmonious and engaging performance. 

Beatboxing kathak dal tadka fusion of kathak and beatboxing pooja pant avinash tewari voice of avi kathak dance