Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Artist & Teacher Syed Asif Ali

Forty is definitely a milestone in our life. If people opt for lavish parties or an adventurous holiday, I decided to enroll for an Art course of 4 years at Mahalasa College of Visual Arts. And I am loving it with peers two decades younger. Best decision ever, as I meet and get to learn from artists in Mangalore and Coastal Karnataka. My lecturer Mr. Syed Asif Ali is my inspiration and mentor for watercolors, a medium I am in love with. His work is a reflection of the lush landscapes of the coast and will transport the viewer right to Mangalore. Let’s meet Artist Syed Asif Ali at Mindcraft studios housed in the beautiful Guthu Mane at KodialGuthu.
Syed Asif Ali is a versatile artist who is accomplished in the different mediums of art with more than 30 years of experience. He attributes this variety in his work to his profession as a teacher and his role as a mentor to his students. Though he is naturally drawn to the translucence of watercolors, especially capturing the beauty of nature in plein air, his contemporary works in oil portray the feminine in nature. His landscapes in watercolor showcase coastal vibes, tiled homes and lush greenery. These paintings bring the experience of the coast to the viewer.
Growing up in the village of Molkalmuru, he was surrounded by skilled artisans and colors of silk sarees handwoven on primitive pit looms. These decorative forms from his childhood capturing nature, his skill in landscapes and portraits which won him accolades in his youth, all paved the way to forging his identity as an artist.
His love for his craft and strive for simplicity and excellence in his work comes through shining in his artwork.
As we chat, I picture a young boy, surrounded by colors and design. Growing up in a joint family with sisters proficient in applying mehendi and embroidery on curtains, Syed Asif Ali was fascinated with designs. Always on the lookout for fresh new designs, at 8 years, he was bringing in fresh ideas for his sisters to work on. Molkalmuru being a hub of handloom silk sarees, every house had a handloom with sarees being woven, silk threads being dyed and colors in the air. Being in this environment of colors, it was natural for the gifted child to pave a life of art. Any festival or fair the child would be in great demand for applying mehendi and creating new decorative forms and designs. Forms from nature were his favourite. His surroundings became his inspiration.
By age 11 in school, he would illustrate his subjects and notes, gaining popularity and recognition among teachers and peers. By this time, he had formed his own identity as an artist.
When he was in high school, he won a District level prize and was mentioned in the newspaper. This further motivated him, to make a name for himself in the field of art.
Grappling with financial issues, his only option was free education in a government organization. Mr. Syed fondly remembers his older brother, a Kannada Pandit, who guided him and helped him secure a seat in Ravindra Kala Niketan Art college in Tumkur in 1990. He opted for DMC (Drawing Master Course) which was a 2-year course and would allow him to be a drawing teacher in high school. The art education in college opened up the entire repertoire of art and the different mediums. Seeing his result after 2 years, he was allowed to continue his education. In his final year, based on his progress and talent, he was offered a position in Mahalasa College of Visual Arts in Mangalore. Though everyone resisted his move to join a private institution instead of a government position, Mr. Syed was motivated by the learning of art itself, and felt that a position in college would give him more of an immersive experience.

When I bring up his love for plein air paintings, he fondly remembers his jaunts as a student to Hampi. He laments that the group from college was huge – to the tune of 100s and they would end up wasting their time in mundane chores such as, firewood collection and cooking, rather than painting. Sleeping under the stars, they were like a huge family. Though fun, they could not paint as much as they would have liked. From their second year onwards, they formed a group of eight and decided to do plein air camps. Once they even did this for an entire month, in a village Ganjam near Srirangapatna. With meagre resources, this was a rich experience with healthy competition among themselves. Any holidays, they would go for plein air camps, practically living art. During the Mysore Dasara competitions, he was awarded every year for 5 years, in portrait and landscapes. He also got a Lalita Kala Academy scholarship award which helped him tide over the last 3 years of his education. He remembers his mother pledging her earrings for his education in the first year, but with the scholarship, his educational needs were taken care of.

The move from Tumkur to Mangalore was a turning point in his life and shaped his art in the following years. He was always attracted to watercolors as a medium. His watercolor art teacher Mallappa Halli was always enthusiastic and spirited to teach him the nuances. His work, especially plein air metamorphosed from the rocky arid terrain of Tumkur to lush greenery in Mangalore with coconut groves, seascapes and tiled homes. This was also the time he got married to Ms. Tanveer Kausar. His wife would always encourage him and wished to see him succeed as an artist. With sadness in his eyes, he recalls her unstinting support especially on the home front and with their children, before her untimely demise. Even today, as he works on a piece, he remembers her and dedicates his work to her memory.

Speaking of his experience as a lecturer in college, he attributes his own growth as an artist to his interactions with the students. In his words, “In order to teach them, I need to get better as an artist every day. This helps me have an immersive experience and my work gives me the greatest satisfaction.” Attracted to nature from the beginning, his work, be it naturalistic, realistic or contemporary the subject of the mother, female and nature is the running theme. Nature captures all the aspects of colors, tonal values, aesthetics and the life supporting aspects of nature call to him, as an artist and a nature enthusiast.

His advice to the upcoming artists, is to leave behind the profit and loss aspect of work. In his words, “Our work should do justice to the images that we dream of, our work should be a reflection of our imagination rather than external expectations. It should be motivated from within and our own aesthetic sense. Everything does not go as per plan, but we need to have a plan in place, and work with any and all the incidentals that happen along the way.”

Our conversation ends on this note and I continue to stay inspired not just by Syed Sir’s words but also his work ethics and talent. Inspite of great personal loss and hardships, he continues to stay invested in his students’ growth and his own art journey. Lucky me, I get to learn from the best!
You can see more of his work on Instagram and also contact him for commissions or purchase of his work.
Twinkles until next time…
Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

Girija Hariharan @2flatbrush

When I wanted to do something related to art, I just looked around me for ways in which I could include it in my life. Giving up a comfortable job, it was time to network, meet artists and conduct workshops in art, in collaboration with artists. It was in one such collaboration that I met and was introduced to Girija Hariharan by my friend, Preethi Prabhu. And we could instantly connect. Every time I meet her, I am in awe of her. You will be too, when you read of her journey and understand all that is Girija @2flatbrush. No wonder all her paintings call to me….her thoughts and emotions translated to vibrant colours and forms.
Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush with her mural in the background

Strings of heritage- What was your ambition as you were growing up?

Girija @2flatbrush- I always used to wonder about children living in railway stations, pavements and under bridges when I was a kid. I had made up my mind around my tween years, to provide a safe and secure place for them to be educated and provided for, when I grow up. When I had a chance to return to India after my education and work stint abroad, I hastily started a foster home for kids and ran it for a while despite being quite naive and inexperienced.

Girija @2flatbrush
Girija @2flatbrush Pic Credit- Preethiprabhu
Strings of heritage- What changed and how did you plan the way ahead when the orphanage was no longer feasible?

Girija @2flatbrush- In Karnataka, the orphan children are given to government institutions. Private institutions like my ‘Annai Charitable trust’, would be given single-parent kids who can’t afford good living conditions. The kids I was given by the child welfare committee for my foster home, had a mother and she simply wasn’t able to support them. As the kids started missing their mom, I realised I was making orphans in order to run an orphanage. It was during my foster home experience that I realised it was important to see the big picture and help others the way they wanted to be helped, not the way I wanted to help them. So I let go of the foster idea and sponsored the education of those kids and they were happily resettled with their mother. From then on, for the past 14 years, with the helpful donors of my trust, I have been sponsoring at least 10-12 single-parent and orphan kids each year to complete their education. I am very proud of each one of those kids. Some have moved on to jobs after their degrees and are inclined to help other kids like themselves. I have some big things planned and have been saving up for it, to launch in a couple of years.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was art always part of your life?

Girija @2flatbrush- Yes! Strangely enough Art has followed me everywhere, and sneaked up on me at the right time 🙂 I used to scribble a lot of colors on walls and floors from a very young age. My mom’s idea of baby-sitting was to give us (me and my brother) a bunch of sheets and pencils and color pencils and we would be occupied for hours. An artist who lived opposite our house was my inspiration to draw and paint. I used to watch him work with great focus and it was meditative. Incidentally he used to paint on walls too!
I had been painting a lot in my college, three hours a day during our cultural programs, and made some lifelong friends there. Every pleasant memory I have, is associated with some art in the mainstream or background. We used to paint humongous posters and backdrops and I was in love with big canvases and larger than life artworks. I always had a painting brush in my handbag, for as long as I had a handbag. I am not sure I ever used it, but it was the universe’s plan for me, I guess.

Strings of heritage- How did you make the transition from software engineer to an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- It wasn’t a planned transition. It developed organically. When I did my first mural for my home I just put out a Facebook post asking for volunteers to lend me their walls for mural practice. Strangely enough I had a taker and I did my second mural and I started considering mural art as an alternate career. Meanwhile I was more and more dissatisfied with my job. When it got to be too much, I just decided to quit the company. I was thinking of going solo or start my own firm. I still love technology and I keep myself up-to-date

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Was it a planned change or sudden?

Girija @2flatbrush- As soon as I drafted my resignation, I remember going to a job portal site to look for alternate jobs in freelancing. I must have spent five minutes and I got incredibly weary of reading the same job descriptions over and over again. It was then that it struck me, ‘I could be a mural artist!’ It was a no-brainer, as I had the initiative, interest and some basic experience for me to build upon! I didn’t even have three or four pictures for my Facebook page for 2flatbrush:) when I started. It was a crazy adrenaline rush and I launched my business on Facebook. I had steered away from everything comfortable, in just a couple of days. I remember brainstorming with my friends about the name of the business. We had several favorites. There was this brush in my college that I had reserved for painting, it was an ugly flat brush which used to be blue, and I loved it to bits. And it came to my mind at the right time. I looked at the brush in my handbag, and it was size 2, Flat.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit -Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Did you get the support of family when you decided on the transition? What were the challenges you faced?

Girija @2flatbrush- They were already used to my spontaneous decisions, I guess. My parents were used to me, but this time I had in-laws! They were super supportive as well. There were apprehensions from my near and dear ones, but there was encouragement all around. Everyone for some reason already knew I would be a good artist. Even if they hadn’t seen my works! My husband for one was so excited and there was not an iota of doubt in his mind. I have a great friend circle, and a great family who support me in everything I do.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- When you look back today, would you have done something differently with your life,education or decisions?

Girija @2flatbrush- I would probably be more polite and less rowdier I guess 🙂 Art has softened me and made me much more empathetic than I ever was. I wouldn’t revise any of my decisions or education.

Strings of heritage- How do you decide on what to paint next when it is not a commissioned work?

Girija @2flatbrush- It is not a decision, it is just coming into being, I think. I believe I am a medium, and the paintings flow through me, not from me. I have lots and lots of ideas that always come to me while day-dreaming:) I note some of them down, forget many, and forget what the note is about sometimes too! I read a lot, and I am tuned into many social issues as well, and it inspires me and gives me a lot of new ideas all the time. I want to paint every day, and I never run out of ideas. If I ever feel out of my element a quick meet up with my friends or a good book will put me right back in my studio.

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Why do you love murals?

Girija @2flatbrush- Firstly, because it shares five letters with my husband Murali. 🙂 I know it’s a tacky answer, but maybe there’s a pattern to how the universe matches us with things.

Jokes apart, I have always been an introvert, and I get intimidated by outgoing, confident and assertive people. Large paintings are a way to assert myself, it’s my little way of showcasing who I want to be. Little things blown up larger than life give us a unique perspective on things, and give us a sense of wonder. I think any artist looks for this wonder, ‘elusive wonder’ that we try and package into music, dance or art.

Strings of heritage- Your favourite subject to paint?

Girija @2flatbrush- I am forever obsessed with faces and hands. I love thoughtful paintings that add layers to it than just a visual appeal.

Strings of heritage- Any favourite medium ?

Girija @2flatbrush- Acrylic for life. On everything. (Canvas, walls, doors, skin)

Girija @2flatbrush

Girija @2flatbrush Pic credit- Preethiprabhu

Strings of heritage- Your thoughts on experiments in art, your favourite artist and contemporary art.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am so psyched about art installations. Larger than life art installations that just literally make you walk in to the art. I love amalgamation of several art forms and collaboration of artists.
There’s no single favorite. But I love the lines of MF Hussain, the fearless Frida Kahlo, Acrylic techniques of Milind Nayak, an old man in Jayanagar who doesn’t sell his works but just wants to express himself in inks, and displays art just for pleasure, my brother who was the first portrait artist I knew, and a million others I follow on Instagram who inspire me every day. I love oil painters who have the patience to layer and glaze. I love a lot of illustrators and comics who comment on social issues relentlessly. Most of all, I love sculptures and our traditional nameless painters of Indian Historic murals of all religions.

Strings of heritage– Do you think an education in art is relevant to ones success?

Girija @2flatbrush- Success is a dicey term. It is set by one self. I don’t see art as a means to an end. Art is itself success, to be able to express yourself creatively is a success, and to package wonder is a success. Art itself is an education. Having said that,I see tremendous improvement in my work in the last three years working full time. So if art education lets you practice for years, I am all for it. I am for anything that’s a focused approach to practice your craft without you having to look over your shoulder for validation all the time. So a formal education is both bad and good in some ways.

Strings of heritage- Where do you see yourself five years down the line in terms of your evolution as an artist?

Girija @2flatbrush- I have my cake and I am eating it too. In five years, I want to be able to do what I am doing right now:) Live, love and paint! If I am able to bring about some social awareness through some public art, it will be the cherry on the cake.

Girija @2flatbrush

Draupadi, the five elements expressing her life and emotions

Strings of heritage- Any advice that you could give from your own experience? Be it in terms of changing career tracks, to art or otherwise. This is especially so as any change comes with its own challenges.

Girija @2flatbrush- I am not a big fan of advice. Giving or taking. But these are what worked for me.

  1. Integrity. Do what you say. Say what you do.
  2. Build a network. You can’t sit around in your studio if you are making life changing decisions.
  3. Trust yourself. Be your own warrior, even if you stumble.
  4. Learn relentlessly.
  5. If you are changing careers don’t expect comfort. If you want comfort go back to your old job.
  6. Be comfortable with your finances. You might earn less than, or minimum wages (there’s no such thing in India, another political issue) for a long while. You should be ok with cutting down costs while you are building a client base.


Thank you Girija,for sharing so much of yourself with us.

Girija @2flatbrush
And that was Girija @2flatbrush for you. You can follow her work @2flatbrush in instagram and facebook. If you want to contribute towards educating a child, contact Girija on her profile.

Write to me and share your thoughts or challenges you faced with transition.

Lots of Twinkles to all of you.


Terracotta Artist Venki Palimar

Terracotta Artist Venki Palimar


The last time I visited Venki’s (He is Venkataraman Kamath but known to everyone as Venki Palimar) terracotta workshop was twenty years ago. When he had just started out and I was in college. He was a friend’s cousin and I was very interested in art. I remember when we got down from the bus, he was waiting for us and took us home through what seemed a jungle at that time. But now, it’s all changed. With broad roads and areas marked, finding the gallery in Palimar was easy peasy (That’s my daughter’s slang for you!). His mother’s got great memory. She remembered me from back then (I am sure I have changed quite a bit from then!!) and insisted I have lunch with them. So it was more like catching up with all that happened in the last twenty years with terracotta artist Venki Palimar.

Buddhists Monks in terracotta Venki Palimar

Buddhists Monks in terracotta by Venki Palimar.They inspire peace and contentment.

Early morning, before going to school, he would get some clay from the fields and make small Ganapathis out of them. He would hide them and go off to school. But his grandfather knew of this hobby and would look for the day’s Ganapathy and immerse it in the well( as clay Ganapathis were only to be done during Ganesh chaturthi and had to be worshipped according to rituals). The young boy would return from school and cry for the lost Ganapathy. In school his books used to be filled with drawings and science was his favourite subject because, that was where he was required to draw! With a reason like that he was bound to study art. Venki fondly remembers Mr. K V Bhat, the Principal at Junior College Palimar who told him about the art course in Udupi and refused to take his application for college.
Venki's Fascination for Ganapathi continues. Chitralaya art gallery
Venki’s Fascination for Ganapathi continues.
Vraksha Ganapathy by Venki palimar in terracotta
Vraksha Ganapathy by Venki palimar in terracotta is going to the USA
The Beginning-

No man is an island and all our struggles are witnessed. When Venki realized that his calling was in moulding clay and terracotta, Venki pursued it with great passion. Mr. Balram Bhat, a well wisher, helped him expand his vision. He helped him get more exposure through books, exhibitions attended by him and any terracotta work that he came across, he shared with Venki. It was this selfless interest on Mr. Balram Bhat’s part that helped him improve on his vision and imagination, shaping him into the Terracotta artist Venki Palimar. In his spare time, he would go along with an artist friend for rock climbing, a rock by the name of Nimmipade near Adve. His own struggle to master the art, achieve in life and his experience while climbing the rock has inspired him to do a series on rock climbing. Though he shares this with me, he says he prefers the viewer to have his own interpretation.

Rock climbing in terracotta by Venki Palimar
Rock climbing in terracotta by Venki Palimar. Struggle to reach the top.
But baking the life sized art pieces presented a problem when many of his art pieces would not survive the process. He was clearly disheartened as his work needed to withstand the ‘agnipareeksha’ (test of the fire) at the baking kiln to be a success. Even when the tile factory closed down, he continued working in the medium, until there was no more space in the house to walk around. At this point he came across another mentor, Ramakrishna Kamath who owned Uma tile factory in Hejmady. He visited Venki and asked him to use his tile factory for baking. From then on, there has been no looking back. He uses the same tile factory for baking even to this day and not a single piece has been damaged (It takes 15 days of baking to be ready). With this, his art received a new lease of life. Mr. Ramesh Rao, an artist of international repute from Udupi has also been his staunch supporter and I remember Venki’s work being displayed in Drishya Gallery Udupi (And drooling over a rooster fruit bowl in terracotta by Venki).
A couple depicting rural life in terracotta by Venki palimar
A couple depicting rural life in terracotta
Working as an art teacher in a School, his students love his enthusiasm for art and he is generous with his knowledge. The proof for this is his favourite and longtime student Laren Pinto. This young boy was sent to Venkati at the age of six to learn drawing and more importantly, to be kept out of mischief. But Venki soon realized his potential in terracotta and trained him. A very shy child, he lets his work do the talking. When I met him, I could see the close bond between the teacher and the student. Laren who is now 14, has won the national award(Rashtriya Vibhushan Rashtra Prashasthi and many more awards) and Venki is mighty pleased with his dedication. Venki especially values it as he himself became a terracotta artist without a teacher. It was a long process of trial and error, understanding the medium, the patrons and blending it with his vision. 
Venki Palimar with award winning student Laren Pinto
Venki Palimar with award winning student Laren Pinto
A sample of Laren Pinto's work in terracotta with Venki Palimar
A sample of Laren Pinto’s work in terracotta

When I ask him about inspiration, he says that he finds it everywhere. In the people around him, their expressions and the different reactions that people have. When he says that he sees everything around him from the perspective of capturing it in terracotta, I can quite understand. Nowadays anything that I see, I feel “Yes! This is something I can write about”. Life has become so much more interesting this way.

Rural life appeals to him the greatest, and he has portrayed it in the farmers, school children and the local culture, be it Bhootaradhane, the lambanis or the masks. Not to forget his roots, “After all this is what I grew up with”, says Terracotta artist Venki Palimar.

Bhootaradhane Ravana in terracotta at Chitralaya Art gallery by Venki Palimar
Bhootaradhane, Character applying make-up in terracotta
Hamara Bajaj series, remembering the good old days of the scooter
Hamara Bajaj series, remembering the good old days of the scooter
Now his subjects, more often than not are nature based and this old tree holds a unique appeal. Cut off but he seems to be deep in thought, and birds make do with him. In fact he had some visitors to the gallery today and when I asked them for their feedback, here is what Deepthi had to say. “Everybody just loved it. Especially the expressions captured by the terracotta artist Venki Palimar were awesome. Our favourite piece was the tree which was cut off and deep in thought, with birds on top”. So it’s not just me who loved the tree!
A tree in terracotta by Venki Palimar at Chitralaya Art Gallery
Inspired by nature and a sad reality in terracotta by Venki Palimar at Chitralaya Art Gallery
When I ask Venki about his dream, he says that it is now fulfilled with his Chitralaya Art Gallery which was inaugrated this May. Building his own gallery with a heritage feel was his dream and after planning for it for nearly three years, it is now achieved. The next step might be to build a space above his gallery for his vast and growing antiques collection. And I am sure he will do that with the support that he gets from his family and well wishers. I wish him the very best.
Sadhus in terracotta by Venki Palimar at Chitralaya Art Gallery

Sadhus in terracotta by Venki Palimar at Chitralaya Art Gallery

I now have an invite to attend his next workshop. So off I go again. Coming anyone?

Lots of Twinkles to all of you. Have a happy week.


PS- You can contact the artist for orders at Venki Palimar – 9844813019 (Whatsapp)

I am planning to conduct a workshop with Terracotta artist Venki Palimar in Bangalore, later this year. If interested, do write to me at the email mentioned.

Bindu Bolar the ‘Tribalina’-Tribal Fusion Belly Dance

Bindu Bolar the ‘Tribalina’-Tribal Fusion Belly Dance

If we had met in passing it would have been a ‘hi’ and a ‘bye’. After all we were classmates for three years during our graduation. But I am happy, that I could meet and talk to Bindu Bolar beyond these pleasantries. An awesome personality, who has seen the ups and downs in life and emerged a success. She followed her passion inspite of the opposition and the doubts. She took risks with no guarantee of success- personal, financial and professional. She forged her identity through dance, giving it her own signature style. The Tribal Fusion Belly dance is a mix of the tribal belly dance as pioneered by Jamila Salimpour and Bindu’s own style of animation and popping. Tribal belly dance has its origin from the different tribes spread all over the world. Belly dance is originally a Middle Eastern Folk dance, but over the years has been adapted and evolved across different countries and styles. This also saw fusion in its costumes and changes wherein the belly movements would be in focus. Her beautiful collection of antique jewellery used in the dance form, reflects its different origins. There are hip belts, headgears, bangles, armlets and neckpieces featuring Indian coins, Afghani coins and pom poms from Rajasthan. The creative person that she is, she also has her own line of tribal jewellery called ‘Tribal Tijori’, which she makes from motifs in sarees, coins, shells, beads and all that appeals to her. The headgear is again a mix of cardboard and metal, which is handmade by her. She even makes her costumes sometimes. This makes it exclusive and helps her incorporate all that she likes.

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance-Tribalina Bindu Bolar
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance jewellery- Made up of coins,pom poms and mirrors
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance-Bindu Bolar

Tribal Fusion Belly Dance-Elaborate belt for the hips, with precious stones, coins and beads

Lights Camera Dance is her baby, where she takes classes and workshops in the different forms of dance. Her team also works with different schools, choreographing their dances, as hobby teachers and teaching dance as part of their syllabus. Today she is successful and recognized as a ‘Tribalina’. A title earned by her through her unique dance form. She also conducts workshops of tribal fusion belly dance all over India and also abroad. But her journey has not been a smooth sail.
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance- Bindu Bolar
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance- Fusion and evolution in the costumes.Ornamental jewellery is now part of it.
Born and brought up in Mangalore, right from her childhood, she was fascinated with dance. But her family being conservative and education oriented, there was absolutely no scope for her to learn dance formally. But not to be dissuaded easily, she would take every opportunity to dance on stage. Be it in school, college, competitions, festivals or even New Year celebrations in the neighborhood. I still remember in college, whenever there was any dance completion, or festival, we would turn to Bindu to handle the show. But back in those days, we did not have the kind of exposure kids have these days. There was no career counselor, who would say, “Yes, pursue your passion in dance”. Falling in line with what was expected; she completed her Masters in Computer Applications and came to Bangalore with a job in IT. But that was a turning point for her, where she simultaneously started pursuing her passion for dance. Along with Oriental Belly Dancing, she also trained in dance forms such as Bollywood, Hip Hop, B-Boying, Kathak, Salsa, Popping, Merengue, Jive, Bachata and Contemporary.When she felt that she was ready to take the plunge, she gave up her comfortable job and started dancing in earnest and professionally. But the first studio that she established was not destined to be hers and after four and half years of putting her heart and soul into it, she was back to square one. But not one to give up easily, she picked herself up and was among the Top 30 in Dance plus of the Star Plus dance reality show.
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance- Bindu Bolar
Tribal Fusion Belly Dance-Fluid Movements inspired from nature and wildlife.
She was trained in Oriental Belly dance by Anna Olkinuora – UK and with this foundation, she self trained in Tribal belly dance. She won the title of ‘The Most Hypnotic Belly Dancer’ in the first International Belly Dance India festival, Hypnosis 2013. But even after winning the title, she felt that she should prove herself to the world and went to the United States of America, for training in the dance form under International Trainers. I was curious to know on who helped her make the arrangements in a foreign country, maybe a relative or a friend? But she is one girl with spunk! She took a personal loan to fund her travel and intensive training of four months (which is now repaid she says with pride and rightly so), with absolutely no contacts or friends to help her.  She became the first native Indian to complete the 8 Elements Initiation Certification with Rachel Brice (USA) – The pioneer of Tribal Fusion Belly Dance in the world. After which she went on to do workshops and some more intensive training with various other trainers across America. It was no less than an adventure, she smiles. Some of her travel stories had me spellbound. Having trained in various dance forms, resulted in a very unique fusion and a style of her own – Tribal Fusion Belly Dance. Her movements are characterized by intense and precise muscular isolation, and very sharp breaks & pops which contribute to her very mesmerizing and hypnotic style. Elegant yet raw her technique draws inspiration from nature and wild life. In fact, she tells me that the happiest moment for her was when her teacher Rachel Brice, saw her dance and was totally moved. The best compliment was when she said that, she could see the dance styles of all her trainers but was also ‘so much Bindu’. And Bindu wants the same for her students- to evolve in dance and create a style of their own.

Bindu Bolar has represented India in a lot of dance festivals abroad like Elevation in Denver (USA), Tribal Fest in Sebastapol (USA), Tribal Umrah in Viareggio (Italy), Art One Nation in Hanghzou(China), Cues and Tattoos in Seattle (USA) and British Columbia Belly Dance festival in Penticton (Canada). She has also performed and taught in various festivals in India like Channel V India Fest, Goa Tribal Fest, Bombay Fest, Pune International Dance Congress, Bwitchs Belly Dance Festival, BellySima to name a few.

Tribal fusion belly dance -Bindu Bolar
Bindu wants her students to evolve in dance and create a style of their own
Seeing her syllabus and the subjects the training involved had me reeling. I had ‘No idea’ that dancing involved studying elements of History /Lineage of the dance form, Techniques formulated according to the individual teacher’s format, Yoga Based exercises, Choreography structuring, Costumes and its history in the genre, Stage performance skills and many more. So in case you plan to study Tribal Fusion Belly dance in an advanced format…better be prepared (just jokin!). But on a more serious note, Bindu is truly old school. She is very strict about which songs the children dance to. “Beedi Jalayle” is a strict No-No. She says, “After all, there are many fun dances where kids can enjoy. Why corrupt their innocence?” This sums up the person that she is- Innocent at heart but worldly-wise; a girl who loves plain vanilla but peeks through scary scenes in horror movies; creative in every which way and who loves to Dance.

I so loved talking to Bindu Bolar and learning so much about the dance form- Tribal fusion belly dance, and more so of her journey. Each artist’s journey and their path to the ‘Aha’ moment is unique. Thank you so much Bindu for letting us into your life and your unique journey.

Check out the video:

Lots of Twinkles to you. Have a great week…at least what’s left of it!


Pic Credits- Pictures of Bindu by Salman Sam. Thanks Sam for the lovely pics.

PS- Will keep you updated on the workshop ‘Introduction to belly dance’ from ‘Lights, Camera, Dance’. Let’s learn to belly dance. What fun!