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Games opener 'proud moment for India', says young dancer

Tuesday, October 05, 2010 11:58:22 AM, IANS

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New Delhi: She was only one of over 6,000 artistes who stole the thunder at the Commonwealth Games inaugural. But young Kuchipudi dancer Chitkala Balan will cherish the day for ever.

The 20-year-old graduate from Delhi's Hindu College has been inundated by congratulatory phone calls after taking part in the gala extravaganza that has won lavish praise all around the world.

"I am really proud I was part of it," Chitkala told IANS, her voice still betraying her excitement. "What I saw on Sunday was awesome."

"I really felt very special at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium," said Chitkala who has been a student of Raja and Radha Reddy for eight years, and echoed the views of her peers.

"When we were on stage, there were cameras flashing from everywhere. I was on the same stage where A.R. Rahman sang. It was a big, big thing for me."

She quickly added: "It is also a proud moment for India."

For full three hours, more than 6,000 artistes of all age groups put up a spectacular show of Indian art, culture, music and history that ended with the foot-tapping Games theme song sung by Rahman.

As the curtains fell on the opening ceremony, the wild cheering and standing ovation from those packing the stadium was proof that the colourful, glitch-free show had won millions of hearts around the world.

Chitkala was one of 80 Kuchipudi dancers who formed part of the "Tree of Knowledge" segment towards the fag end of the three-hour opening ceremony.

Giving Chitkala and her friends company were 80 dancers each from five other dance forms of India: Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and Kathak.

All the dancers, she said, began training for the Commonwealth opener in August at the Army Parade Ground here.

"In the beginning, we trained three to four times a week, three to four hours each time. As the ceremony drew close, we danced for seven to eight hours each day. We shifted to the stadium only a week before.

"It was a nice journey... I got to meet many young dancers. It was a great experience."

Chitkala says although the dancers and other artistes worked very hard, the credit for Sunday's success should go equally to the choreographers.

"We were not the only people they were dealing with. There were also people who could not read or write. For them, it was so difficult because everyone had to read numbers on the ground to know our positions."

Chitkala is unhappy with the Indian media.

"The media has been complaining we were not getting food or water. That was wrong. When we practised, we got bottled water and enough food.

"The media has been so negative. They are also forcing people to think negative when so many good things are happening all around us. When the big day came, I totally forgot whatever the media was saying."

Like most artistes, Chitkala reached home well past midnight Sunday, tired but happy. But Monday was like any other day.

"No, I coudn't sleep or take rest. I had to go to classes. I am also studying to be a chartered accountant. My tests are in November. I cannot afford to miss my classes."







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