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16 June 2016 / leggypeggy

Bring on the dancers, especially in India

Baiga dancer with headdress, India

I love this pic of a Baiga dancer with her wonderful headdress and tattoos

How am I going to make dinner over the next three or four weeks?

Let’s get this straight. If you cook dinner for your family every night, you might do the same as me. I switch on the TV about 4:30pm for some distraction, company and entertainment.

For the last three or four weeks, I’ve been watching the 2013 edition of India’s Dancing Superstar. It’s been sensational.

I’ve watched all the auditions (there were hundreds), the narrowing down to 60, and then the further narrowing down to 12. I’ve watched as the judges nurtured and encouraged each and every performer who progressed. For example, there was a dwarf, Vikas Kumar, who has since gone on to make a name for himself in India’s entertainment world.

Back of Baiga headress

A colourful Baiga headdress from the back

Then there was the Loyola Dream Team, a group of young men from a private school in Chennai. They got into the top five. One of the judges, the stylish Geeta Kapoor, was especially partial to them, and so was I. They didn’t win, but have since gone on to perform widely in India.

In the end, MJ5 took out the honours, winning the most phoned-in votes from across India. They did a great job and specialised in moon walking, a dance style made popular by Michael Jackson (hence their name of MJ5). They were amazing and innovative, and represented just a small slice of the many dance styles that are practised in India.

In fact, the range of dance styles shown in the competition amazed me because, until the superstar event, my knowledge of Indian dance was limited to traditional and Bollywood productions. By the way, Geeta Kapoor is a Bollywood choreographer.

Luckily, our travels in India have given us the chance to see other styles of traditional dance.

Baiga women dancing

Dancers in India—the Baiga
The first time we saw dancers was near Kanha’s national park, in Madhya Pradesh, and this group was from the Baiga tribe.

We felt lucky to see them: so full of life, colour and movement. While the women and men performed together, they filled different roles. The women danced in a circle or in a line, while the men, for the most part, played the instruments.

I was sad to learn more about the Baiga. They are forest dwellers living mostly in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jhaekhand. They live a semi-nomadic life, and are hunters and woodsmen. They strive to survive on the produce of the forest, and say they don’t plough the earth because it would be like scratching their mother’s breast.

Baiga headdresses for men

Over the last 50 years and in the name of conservation, many Baiga have been forcefully evicted from their forests. The government has officially ‘reclaimed’ the land to protect tigers and expand national wildlife parks.

Obviously this has been great for the animals and those of us who want to see them in the wild, but I believe it has been problematic for the Baiga communities.

I don’t know if ‘our dancers’ were displaced, but we sure appreciated their performance. Our little group of six was the only audience and we loved every minute.

Oh, and some groups of Baiga women are tattoo experts. I wonder if the group we saw are among the artistes?

Bhavai dance and smile

A wonderful smile. Isn’t she cute!

Dancers in India—Rajasthan
Our next dance extravaganza came a week later in Rajasthan, near Ranthambore National Park. This performance was organised by the hotel/campground where we were staying, and was performed in the garden near our tents. I think it must be a routine offering, and many hotel guests attended.

There were four musicians and one dancer performing the bhavai style of dance. This style involves a female balancing earthenware or bronze pots on her head as she twists, turns and dances. Our girl balanced a stack of metal pots (aluminium or stainless steel, I think). She was such a sweet thing with a wonderful smile.

It had the feel of a family affair, with dad and sons playing the instruments, and daughter fleshing out the performance with her dancing.

We were happy to support them.

Our next adventures
India seems to be in our blood. The dancing might be too, but don’t expect Poor John to ever admit that he has any interest in dance.

We’re planning another trip to India: this time in the south and starting in early October 2016. It’s for 45 days and has a focus on wildlife—lots of tigers and bears (the lions are further north and west, and we saw them here).

If you’re interested and are good travelling companions (eat anything and okay with budget accommodation), you are most welcome to join this adventure. Two seats left. Let me know and I will send details.

P.S. The trip will travel with 2, but there is room for 4. Oh, and if you love Indian food as much as we do, check out this great recipe for fish in tomato gravy.


Leave a Comment
  1. thatmishmash / Jun 16 2016 12:16 am

    Wow ! I have seen the Balancing act in Ahmedabad , but not experienced the Baiga yet. Your pictures are lovely and the headgear is intricate and something that I haven’t seen before . Thank you for sharing this . Good luck with your trip to India .

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 12:22 am

      I thought the Baiga dance was more interesting; probably because it was more unexpected and different to anything I had ever seen. I’ve seen the pot-balancing dance in several other cultures.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thatmishmash / Jun 16 2016 12:53 am

        I agree . It’s nice to have read of this one today 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. derrickjknight / Jun 16 2016 12:18 am

    A beautiful post. So many put animals before people, it seems

    Liked by 3 people

  3. kkessler833 / Jun 16 2016 12:40 am

    Great pics!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Rashminotes / Jun 16 2016 12:46 am

    Wow Peggy you have experienced a lot of great things in India; am sure you will enjoy your trip to South India. Is Bangalore on your list?

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 8:29 am

      We plan to fly into Bangalore and have a look around before heading to Bhopal, where the trip begins


  5. susan@onesmallwalk / Jun 16 2016 1:01 am

    Sounds like a delightful trip – if we weren’t also traveling at that time, I think we’d fill in your empty two-seats!

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 8:30 am

      Enjoy your travels. Where to for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • susan@onesmallwalk / Jun 17 2016 12:21 am

        We’re off to Spain and Portugal – we’ve never been to that area, and are pretty darn excited! Buen viaje to you, too.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jun 17 2016 2:17 pm

        We loved Spain. Haven’t made it to Portugal yet.


  6. spearfruit / Jun 16 2016 4:36 am

    Very interesting post Peggy and the next trip I am sure will be an amazing trip. Have a great day my friend! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. chattykerry / Jun 16 2016 7:09 am

    What a fantastic experience, Peggy! Amazing shots, too. I sometimes do some Indian dancing from one of my exercise DVDs and it’s really hard…or maybe I am getting old? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. wfdec / Jun 16 2016 7:50 am

    As usual, you have shown us a lot of the world we wouldn’t get to see. Thanks a million.
    (PS. I have needed to go private so if you want to you just have to hit the link and the permission gets OK’d)

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 12:03 pm

      Always glad you stop by. The link didn’t get me there, so I asked for permission.


  9. gerard oosterman / Jun 16 2016 8:05 am

    Music, dancing, and creativity seems to ooze out of India and its people. Hardly a sad or unhappy face to be seen. What would it take to bring on the smiles, music, and dancers on our streets?

    Liked by 6 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 12:06 pm

      The beggars manage to look very pitiful, but most others give you a smile. I find that true in most parts of the world—you give a smile and you get one in return. Music and dancing is harder to come by. 🙂


  10. Vicki / Jun 16 2016 9:39 am

    I never realised there was such a diverse range of dancing in India. Like you, Peggy, I somehow always think of Bollywood in style.
    Great Pics and I’ll certainly look forward to seeing and reading about your trip when it comes up on the Blogosphere calender. Hearing about your travels is almost as good as being there.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 12:10 pm

      Thanks Vicki. The amazing thing about the Indian dancing styles is that the average person actually knows about them. Do have a look if you see India’s Dancing Superstar program come around again on SBS. I loved it and am hoping they’ll show the 2014 and 2015 programs.


  11. Sy.S / Jun 16 2016 11:49 am

    Regarding your upcoming travels to southern India… How about a side trip to one of my favorite countries, Sri Lanka/Ceylon. I know you have been to this country in the past. However, with your interesting commentary and pictures it promises to be a great adventure.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 12:11 pm

      Hi Sy, we love Sri Lanka too, but not a destination on this trip. We need to be back home to welcome the daughter who will be visiting from France.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ms Louise M Oliver / Jun 16 2016 12:03 pm

    Thank you as always Peggy for a really interesting story with context and beautiful photos.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. onehappyfangirl / Jun 16 2016 9:31 pm

    I live in INDIA and sadly I didn’t knew what is baiga dance . I googled it now. BTW your posts are beautiful

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 16 2016 10:27 pm

      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I’m so happy to introduce you to the Baiga dancers. Where are you in India?

      Liked by 1 person

      • onehappyfangirl / Jun 17 2016 1:09 am

        Aurangabad, It’s near Mumbai – It’s a great place. Have you been here, It has great places lIke bibi ka maqbara . Have you visited taj mahal , so bibi ka maqbara is also known as mini taj mahal , It was a gift by , umm ,you know shah jahan right.! So his grandson gifted this to his late mother (how sweet of him ) . He actually wanted to make it same as taj mahal but they faced shortage of stones and stuff as they had to bring it all the way from rajasthan(a state in Western india ) so it was a bit smaller but still the story is so sweet . How much he loved his mother😳😳.. and there are some museums you won’t mind having a trip..and also there are ajanta and ellora caves , they are many so you may get tired ,so you might want to go slowly . But you get to see amazing places ,so that’s great . It was so Nice to meet you ..umm ..Peggy ,right?😊😊. Hope you won’t mind taking a tour here when you come to India next time. Sending lots of love ,hope you have a nice day ahead..

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 17 2016 2:21 pm

        We know the story of bibi ka maqbara, but haven’t been there yet. Maybe on this trip because we are focussing on the south. We have been to the Taj Mahal and know about Shan Jahan. I’m going to see if we can get to the caves this time. We have almost 50 days in India, starting in October. And so lovely to meet you too.


  14. Fiona McLellan / Dan Werkman / Jun 17 2016 12:51 am

    Great blog, i enjoyed reading and learning about the cultural ritual and aspect… very descriptive photos, felt as though I was there amongst the dancers myself. Fiona

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Carol Ferenc / Jun 17 2016 6:00 am

    Great post, Peggy. The costumes are gorgeous! It’s interesting that the big winners, MJ5, were so influenced by Michael Jackson. He truly was a world-wide phenomenon.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Curt Mekemson / Jun 17 2016 6:43 am

    Interesting blog, Peggy. I am afraid my acquaintance with Indian dancing is of the Bollywood type, but Indian food is among my all time favorites. Love the girl balancing in front of what appears to be the tip jar. 🙂 –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  17. milliethom / Jun 18 2016 12:11 am

    A vivid and colourful post, Peggy. The competition seems to have given you lots of enjoyment over the last few weeks, and understandably so. The situation regarding the displaced Baiga people is a sad one, and there are many similar stories from around the world. The Baiga dancers looks very lovely in their bright costumes, and the pot-balancing act looks intriguing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 18 2016 7:46 am

      Thanks Millie. I loved the competition.

      People all over the world are being displaced, and the main plus in India is that making room for tigers is a better reason than tearing apart a society through war.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. mistermuse / Jun 18 2016 7:39 am

    Poor John may have no interest in Baiga dancers, however I suspect the same isn’t true of belly dancers (but maybe he wouldn’t admit that either)! :).

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 18 2016 7:49 am

      I should have said that Poor John is happy to watch dancers (yep, belly dancers too), but he’s terrified he might be asked to get on the dance floor.


  19. Lynz Real Cooking / Jun 18 2016 8:24 am

    What a gorgeous post Peggy! You bring us so many interesting things we would not see! I love the dancers and the colors and your stories! Have fun

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sheryl / Jun 18 2016 11:34 am

    The pictures and text really drew me into this post. I enjoyed learning about the Biago. It’s so hard when people are displaced–and balancing all the issues is complicated.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 18 2016 3:17 pm

      An excellent point about balancing the issues.


  21. Geetha B / Jun 18 2016 2:00 pm

    Loved it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 18 2016 3:18 pm

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Geetha B / Jun 18 2016 3:21 pm

        Welcome 🙂 I am missing out on most of my readings as my new job is quite demanding but sometimes I am able to catch up during weekends.

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jun 18 2016 3:25 pm

        Hope the new job is enjoyable and rewarding.


  22. Deb / Jun 19 2016 12:55 pm

    Wow I did not know they had a Dancing with the Stars type of show…what beautiful and colorful costumes…and those headdresses are amazing! I bet if you look closely you’ll see Poor John’s toe tapping… Have a fabulous time when you go…I’m sure you’ll be posting about it! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 19 2016 5:51 pm

      You’re right Deb. I’ve caught Poor John with his toe tapping, but no chance of getting him on the dance floor. And you can bet I’ll be posting about the next adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Deb / Jun 19 2016 9:59 pm

        Lol. And I’ll be looking forward to reading all about it!! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  23. Bun Karyudo / Jun 19 2016 4:43 pm

    That sounds like a fascinating show. I’m amazed by the range of styles it involves. I’m glad to hear that it’s not only the winners who can go on to become famous. Watching dancing live must be even more amazing. I’m not sure I’d want to be in the front row, though, if someone was dancing with a pile of pots on her head. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 19 2016 5:58 pm

      The show was fantastic. I thought it was great that many of the dancers who made it into the top 10–12 have gone on to perform. Don’t know if they get enough bookings to make it a career. We were practically in the front row for the pot performance, but never felt at risk. Would be different if she was a beginner. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bun Karyudo / Jun 19 2016 6:06 pm

        I guess that’s the key point! She’s been training for years and so knows what she’s doing. It would be a bad idea getting to close to me while I had a lot of pots on my head. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • leggypeggy / Jun 19 2016 6:10 pm

        Thanks for the warning!


  24. denisfeuerstein / Jun 19 2016 6:29 pm

    Fascinating insight into the indish dancing culture! I have heard and seen how great indish dancing is – keep it up!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Yert K. / Jun 20 2016 4:09 pm

    I’ve nominated you for the quotes challenge.:) Feel free to participate (or not:) ).

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2016 8:59 pm

      Thanks so much for the nomination. I barely have enough time and online connections to post my own blog items, so I know you’ll understand that I won’t participate in the challenge. But thanks again for thinking of me.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. blondieaka / Jun 21 2016 12:51 pm

    Once again a great descriptive post…I will keep an eye for that dance progamme..just the costumes are amazing…Awwwww wish we join you on your trip but I am off to Banglore in January and have a few short trips before that but maybe another time as I love budget and seeing the real places not the plastic tourist ones….

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Jun 21 2016 2:10 pm

      Would be great fun to have blogging company on the trip. Maybe someday. Enjoy your own travels.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. cookingwithshy / Jun 24 2016 2:24 pm

    Beautiful post…cant wait to hear about your next trip to India…

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Traveling Rockhopper / Jun 27 2016 5:24 am

    That’s very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Dinata Misovec / Jul 2 2016 10:31 am

    I also enjoyed this post so much. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 2 2016 9:15 pm

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope you are feeling better.


  30. supercalifragilisticexpialidocious / Jul 2 2016 5:42 pm

    Hey Peggy 🙂
    What all places are you planning to visit in South India. If I may, I suggest you to visit Hampi,Badami, Aihole and Pattadkal in Karnataka. (Beautiful temples built in the 7th century)
    Other places not to be missed includes the house boat stays in backwaters of Kerala (Allepey and Thekady), temples in Tamil Nadu – Madurai, Kanchipuram, Mahabalipuram and Thanjur to name a few. 🙂
    Karnataka also has a bird sanctuary by the name Rangantittu, and also, Bandipur wild life sanctuary.
    Have a happy visit to India. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 2 2016 9:14 pm

      Oh wow, thanks so very much for all those tips. While our trip focuses on India’s wildlife sanctuaries, some of your suggestions are also on our list. We’ll have to see what else we can fit in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • supercalifragilisticexpialidocious / Jul 2 2016 9:46 pm

        Your welcome, Peggy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  31. tony / Jul 3 2016 11:23 pm

    Great photos. the first one is stunning!


    Liked by 1 person

  32. thegreyeye / Jul 6 2016 1:32 pm

    Wow Peggy, even I didn’t know about Baiga dancers!! And don’t be surprised, there are many similar tribal dancers across India. we know few. Now this kind of programs like Dance India Dance’ are revealing many hidden talents across the country, a good job! And I love fish in tomato gravy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 3:06 pm

      We’re hoping to see lots more dance when we are in India later this year. And maybe we’ll be lucky enough to have fish in tomato gravy in the south.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thegreyeye / Jul 6 2016 3:26 pm

        Let me know when you are coming.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jul 6 2016 5:32 pm

        We’ll be travelling in the south and start in Bhopal on 13 October.


  33. Joel Savage / Jul 9 2016 7:41 pm

    Indian has a beautiful culture, thanks for the wonderful photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 9 2016 8:25 pm

      You are most welcome. We’re returning to India for October and November. This time in the south.


  34. Kennedy / Jul 13 2016 4:50 pm

    Wow, Peggy. I love the photos too.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Redazione Antonia / Jul 20 2016 3:04 pm

    Great photos Peggy! I love your blog, very interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 20 2016 8:05 pm

      Thanks so much, and thanks for the reblog. I love your blog too. 🙂


  36. Hemangini / Aug 4 2016 4:55 am

    I belong to Gujarat and the dances performed by many of our tribe communities are superb and worth mention.. Loved that you also watch Indian Dance shows, I thought we Indians only watch western dance shows.. The beauty of dance, art in motion.. ❤
    Welcome back to India 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful stay and enjoy a lot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Aug 4 2016 8:42 am

      Yes, dance is art in motion—what a great description. I have’t seen any Gujarati dancing but maybe I will when I am back in India in October and November. Thanks for visiting here.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Archana / Sep 2 2016 11:40 pm

    Great read! Have fun in your upcoming trip to India!

    Liked by 1 person

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