I am Annu Gupta, an avid Kathak Performer based out of New Delhi. I have learned and taught this art form for last nine years now. I have learned from the most renowned Gurus in India and have also performed at the most reputed platforms across the country, including the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. In the beginning of my career, for first five years, I had served as a commercial trainer to pass on the art of Kathak to the people of Delhi. Eventually, with rare opportunities coming my way, I found myself conducting workshops for under-served girls belonging to socially-ignored communities of Bihar and Himachal Pradesh. The experience of working with these girls was life-changing for me, which ended up making me more grateful and humble for the skills and opportunities that I have been blessed with.
After this soul-stirring journey of last two years working with girls who are full of dreams but with little opportunities, I have now decided to dedicate my full time in traveling to the remote places of the country and serving the under-served while working in collaboration with various organizations already present on the field. My intention is to spend about 20-30 days each organizing workshops that use Kathak as a medium to boost confidence levels, and life-skills, of these girls so that they can a chance to prepare themselves better for life. Throughout next one year, starting from April 2018 till March 2019, I intend to organize about 8 such workshops while collaborating with organizations (mostly NGOs) working in villages or slums across the country, thereby impacting a total of 400 girls in the whole process (8 workshops per year. 2 batches per workshop. 25 participants per batch. 2 hours per day per batch).
In this fundraiser, you shall not only find glimpses of my previous work, in the form of photographs or videos, but you shall also get to know about the organizations that I have already collaborated with for the workshops for next year. As I am still in the middle of finalizing collaborations, you can choose to support me in two ways- one, by contributing your share of love in the form of financial capital for this initiative, and two, by connecting me with appropriate organizations that may be interested to invite me over to conduct this workshop for their kids (anywhere through the country, in villages or in slums).
In the end, I only wish to add that no contribution is small in front of the cause that will be served through your contribution, and it will make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of girls who shall get a chance to inculcate the essential life-skills, which will enable them to lead their lives with confidence and dignity thereby giving them equal opportunities to prove their acumen in a patriarchal society.
1. How do you select the organizations for collaboration?
I have following selection criteria:
- The organization should have a track record of working with under-served girls/kids in its region.
- The organization should have a proper accommodation facility for conducting the workshop.
- The organization should have a good reputation with its local community from where the girls would be coming.
- Jeevan Shiksha in Assam [May 20, 2018 to June 20, 2018]
- Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh [January 2019]
I have worked multiple times with girls of Nari Gunjan (a non-profit organization working for the Dalit girls and women in Bihar) and once with the girls of Kranti (an NGO that empowers Girls from Red-light Areas in Mumbai) and the girls of Happy Feet Home (an NGO that serves kids with terminal illnesses in Mumbai). I am also in collaboration with Deer Park Institute in Bir, Himachal Pradesh for past two years to work with its local community kids of Indian and Tibetan origin.
3. Is this initiative only for girls, what if boys also wish to learn Kathak?
Sure. I always open the workshops for boys and at times they do participate. But I am primarily talking about girls as they have usually been high in numbers during my previous workshops.
4. What is the age criterion for your workshop participants?
I usually work with girls/kids of 8-16 years of age.
5. How does a session of your workshop look like?
A two hour long session for 25 participants consists of Yoga, Meditation and Kathak Dance. The training is imparted in its pure form while keeping the classicalism of Kathak Dance intact.
6. How will you use the raised amount through this fundraiser?
This fundraiser asks for support to cover costs related to workshop travel, required resources such as Ghunghroos, facilitation charges and stage performance charges [Rs 50,000 per workshop. 8 workshops in a year]. My living cost during the workshops (Accommodation + Food) shall be taken care of by the invitee organizations.
7. What if you are not able to raise the required amount?
I will still continue with this initiative, with a hope that the Universe shall support me as I continue serving.
8. How do you assess the impact of your workshops?
I make it compulsory for workshop participants to deliver a stage performance on 30th day of the workshop to a larger audience that includes their parents and local community members. This stage performance not only helps me to evaluate myself but it also helps the girls to improve their event management skills as they themselves organize this whole event.
I am not sure about the workshop, as I wish to keep all the spaces for community girls. However, I would definitely love to have my well-wishers as an audience for girls’ stage performance.
10. How does a stage performance at the end of your workshop look like?
The stage performance starts with a live Kathak performance given by workshop participants followed by a performance that I give so as to deepen audience’s understanding of Kathak further. In the end, the workshop participants share about their workshop experience, the organization-in-collaboration shares about its experience of hosting the workshop, audience shares about its experience of witnessing the performances and I share about my experience of working with girls. The participants also receive certificates for their participation in the entire workshop. It is usually a two hour long event that is mostly organized by the girls themselves.
11. How will you communicate about the progress of your workshops?
I will document all my workshops and share about the on-goings, photographs and videos once in every fifteen days with my well-wishers through my facebook page www.facebook.com/kathakanubhuti and through my website www.annu-kathak.webs.com. I will also produce two formal newsletters by September, 2018 and March, 2019 respectively.
12. How can I be sure that you are really going to conduct these workshops?
That’s what the official letters of collaboration on this fundraiser are for. In addition to these letters, I can also provide you contact details of the on-field organizations (kindly request through a message on my facebook page). You can simply call them and get to know about the workshops that I have already conducted or I intend to conduct at their place.
More about ‘Anubhūti’:
'Anubhūti', which means to experience something in an intense way, is the name of this initiative in which I will conduct 8 workshops of one month duration each with under-served girls of remote rural communities or urban slum so as to improve their life-skills such as Self-confidence, Creativity, Imagination, Leadership, Team work etc by using Kathak as a medium.