As part of a worldwide initiative by Canada’s national airline to revamp basketball courts, an abandoned space in Matunga opens today. It’s a burst of colour, but falls short on basic amenities
‘Sadly, even the best hip-hop dancers in the country still make `10,000 to `15,000 a month. You tell me, is that enough?’
tion dawned that it wasn’t possible for us to make a viable career out of our passion. So, many people dropped out,” Gaikwad rues.
The 26-year-old adds, though, that the mainstream acceptance of hip-hop music did give dancers renewed hope after 2015. paddy would then be taken home and placed at the door or the altar, while families would indulge in celebratory food. But with urbanisation of land, the festival fell into disuse in most parts of the city,” explains Dr Fleur D’Souza, former HOD of the Department of History and retired Vice-Principal (Arts), St Xavier’s College, and a member of the East Indian community. She adds that harvest festivals are also occasions to thank God for the yield, and with few farms remaining, Agera is now taking the shape of a thanksgiving day.
To remind the community of its culture, the Mobai Gaothan “We could now work in commercials, and mainstream dance crews also started looking out for B-boys since it’s an incredibly difficult art,” he says, making a point that Johanna Rodrigues, one of his fellow judges, corroborates when we speak to her later.
“The thing is that breaking is such a difficult art form that it takes at least two years before you can even inculcate the movement into your body, so that you express yourself. And the people who are pioneering the dance form in Mumbai, I feel, are at an international level already,” says Rodrigues, who goes by the moniker B-Girl Jo.
Show them the money
At the same time, however, both she and Gaikwad are of the opinion that there is still a discernible lack of support for hip-hop dance in India. “Brands usually pay the performers in kind, say a really expensive watch or a shoe. But that’s not going to pay your bills. And sadly, even the best dancers in the entire country still make `10-15,000 a month. Now you tell me, is that enough?” he asks. The solution he thus offers is to make B-boying financially viable, so that youngsters have the courage to tell their parents that this is what they want to do with their lives. And another one that Rodrigues offers is to generate an interest in the dance form at the school and college level. “It should be as acknowledged as other forms of art and movement. Most schools have different kinds of sports and sometimes even other dance forms like Bharatanatyam. But breaking should also be introduced since it’s such a complete art — there’s creativity, there’s fitness and it has so much to do with building your self-confidence. So, it’s as powerful as, say, theatre,” the 22-year-old says, voicing the hope that one day this art form will find its place in campuses, without being restricted to nondescript buildings in the suburbs. NO matter how beautiful this looks in a movie, a shot of the scorching sun lingering on our face isn’t close to romantic. But we’ll tell you what’s worse. Walking in blistering heat only to discover closed gates. That had been our experience at Matunga’s Hooper’s Ground in a nutshell, until we managed to get through the guard’s initial disapproval and proceed with our job. Here, enclosed in iron bars that give it a cage-like appearance, are two basketball courts and a volleyball court accompanied by a little garden that welcomes senior citizens every now and then, we’re told. Of the two basketball courts, one is in shambles, while the other has been revamped as part of a global initiative by Air Canada and will open to the public tomorrow.
So, when we ask the guard if the court pre-renovation looked as abandoned as its counterpart, he refuses to say anything more than “bekaar” — so we wonder where the R2.5 crore spent by the BMC for its beautification in 2016 vanished. The revamped court rightly resurrects the garden with its pop of colour and animal motifs; the beige, white, red, and black all give it a sense of its own identity that define the Indo-Canadian relationship. Elizabeth Linder, executive director of Beautiful Destinations, a partner of the initiative, says, “We celebrate travel as a mindset: we believe that whether travel is defined as a global or local experience, it supports a curious mind, an inclusive community, and a diverse perspective. We are proud and delighted to be here.”
Behind the artwork, is painter Sajid Wajid of ST+ART India Foundation, who tells us that his main challenge was conveying the airline’s message of diversity and inclusiveness in two weeks. “India and Canada share very little visual similarities. So, we had to represent that dichotomy in the best possible way, and our approach thus was devoid of human figures. So in the centre, you can spot one giant figure — the top of which is a moose [native to Canada] and the bottom depicts an elephant,” Wajid explains.
But besides its colour, the dressing rooms or sanitation facilities are missing, even though the space is located in a neighbourhood that is home to the city’s most well-known colleges. Seats for spectators are also limited to one stand with two rows that could seat 40. All this shouldn’t be an afterthought in a public space, we feel.
Hooper’s Ground, Matunga.
Rohit Gaikwad aka Lil Rohn
An East Indian procession, complete with a band, proceeds to the IC Church in Borivali during Agera celebrations on October 7.