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It is rare to see a second-generation Indian raised outside India master a classical dance form and pass it on to a third generation of Indians. Ruchi Lamba, the artistic director of Indian Dance Center in Orange County is doing just that.

Ruchi was born in Mumbai, and her parents migrated to Australia when she was 10 years old.  Her Kathak training, which started at the age of 4, continued under the guidance of Indian Dance Center teachers in Sydney.

Indian Dance Center was started in the early 80s in Sydney, Australia by Shri Raghavan Nair of Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi.

One of the most famous dancers to come out of Australia, Ruchi Lamba, runs the US branch of the school and is based in Orange County.

Ruchi has been teaching Kathak and Bollywood for several years under the name of “Monsoon Dance Academy” however she changed he name of her school to “Indian Dance Center” in 2014 as a tribute to her heritage.  She also invited the Australian branch to perform their musical dance-drama “Ramayan” in the United States for the first time in 2015. It was a joint production between the two countries.

“I was blessed to have learnt classical Indian forms like Kathak and Kuchipudi in a completely western environment like Australia,” says Ruchi Lamba.  “Most of the girls in my class were not Indian.  Maybe that’s why own approach to teaching and performing is more westernized.”

The school incorporates a traditional dance syllabus, with modern teaching techniques and plenty of individual attention for each student.

The joy in each of her students was clearly visible on their faces on May 7th as the school conducted its’ annual recital at the Curtis Theater in Brea.

The program started with a traditional Ganesh Vandana, in Raag Yaman by Aditi Mundra, Suhina Sharma and Thea Sinha.  The original score was composed and sung by local artist Kishor Katti. This was followed by Guru Vandana composition by Birju Maharaj and performed by four separate classes one at a time.

One of the dances was devoted to Durga, and included some acting as well as dance to show the story of Mahishasura demon being slain by the goddess.

Another dance was dedicated to Lord Kartikeya and perfomed beautifully by Saanvi Talamanchi, Chetna Pagydyala, Kaveri Miller and Mayanjali Bodla. And another original song composition by Kishor Katti was performed on the antics of Krishna and Radha.  The lyrics for this song “Pag Thirkat Hai” were penned by Ruchi Lamba, who also recited the bols for this and all the other songs.  Set in Raag Punya Dhaneshree, this song was recorded by local artists such as Sandeep Katre and Anis Chandani.

Ruchi Lamba’s solo dance was a classical Kathak piece set to the film song “Pyaar Kiyo To Darna Kya” from the film “Mughal-E-Azam”.  It was a delight to watch her bring the character alive through her expressions, while showcasing her Kathak training in her footwork and her spins.

The school’s Bollywood dancers was a group of 12 ladies, who performed to a medley of songs. The dancers were Namrata Sinha, Archana Sharma, Archana Bhogill, Renuka Bhavani, Tanuja Murgai, Deepa Vachani, Anagha Rajpurkar, Ritu Arora, Sandra Henley, Kulvinder Muir, Jyoti Kumar, Sharmil Miller, Sushma Bahl.

There were also a couple of vocal songs – a ghazal by Kishor Katti and a medley by Sharmil Miller. The MC Tanuja Palsule did a brilliant job introducing each of the items, and it was a wonderful evening for all attendees.

The event was held on May 7th at the Curtis Theater, Brea.

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...