Freedom to dance – Aadukalam 2012

Tamil youths from across the globe came together last Saturday to participate in Global Tamil Youth League’s international dance contest Aadukalam, hosted this year by TYO-UK in London. Teams from Canada, Malaysia, Denmark, Switzerland, Germany and the home team the UK, all participated in putting on a spectacular show and an excitingly close competition.

The tough job of judging was left to an experienced panel comprised of Thuvaraga Kamalarajah  – Bharathanatyam and Bollywood dancer and teacher and hip hop dancer-choreographers Jade Hinksman and Genesco Dela Cruz.
The night opened with the traditional lighting of the lamp followed by a minute’s silence as a mark of remembrance of all the lives lost in the Eelam struggle. The show then kicked off with a traditional welcome dance by Bharathanatyam students of Bharatha Niruthyalaya.

‘Freedom’ was the theme of the contest and Team Canada, the previous year’s runner up, was the first of the competing teams to perform, delivering a meaningful piece about sacrifice and hard won freedom. Colourful and varied outfits won the team a prize for Best Costumes.

‘Erithalal’ from Denmark then took to the stage, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats with a powerful portrayal of resistance and armed struggle. The team’s promotional video which received an astounding amount of attention on Facebook also won prize for Best Promotional Video.

Jackson Bosco and Jude Jeyaraj made a guest appearance in the first half for a special performance of their song ‘Emmuyir Thamile’. Players of Tamil Eelam FA from the UK and Switzerland were also honoured on stage for their participation in the VIVA World Cup 2012 in Kurdistan. ‘Jananam’ from Switzerland’s dance told the story of a little girl whose life is thrown into turmoil by tragic events in Eelam’s history. The lead role was played by the youngest competitor, aged 8! The act picked up prizes for Best Portrayal of Freedom and Best Representation of the Tamil Eelam Struggle.

The UK’s ‘Team GB’, Aadukalam’s defending champions, opened the second half of the show to a staggering reception from the already lively and responsive audience. Their act used a wide range of styles to touch upon themes of freedom of speech, persecution of dissent and international hypocrisy. The judges took their hats off to choreographer Karthika Shantha and awarded the act Prize for Best Choreography.

Another guest performance by stand-up comedian Ferrari had the audience in stitches, while the remaining teams prepared to perform. Representing Germany, ‘Team Husky’ brought a unique twist to the theme by satirising the social freedoms enjoyed by young European Tamils and how they could be channelled into campaigning for Tamil rights.

Malaysia’s ‘Mitra’ with just four dancers had the audience spellbound with a semi-classical piece celebrating Tamil history, which appropriately earned the team Prize for Best Representation of Tamil Heritage. As well as winning the prize for Best Showmanship, Mitra’s extensive solos and duets earned high praise from the judges. Once all the teams had performed, judges Jade and Genesco treated the audience to a dynamic hip-hop and freestyle performance.

Keeping the crowd cheering while the judges deliberated was RebelStar Records’ new artist Teejay. MC Sai followed with tracks from his new album Simmasanam, including his ode to ancient Tamil king Raja Raja Cholan, a song which Team GB had featured in their act!

After a nail-biting prize giving, the judges announced Team Canada as runners up before declaring that home team Team GB had defended their title to become Champions of Aadukalam 2012! The judges said that they were won over by the choreography and the height of different emotions expressed on stage, with judge Genesco claiming “I wanted to join your movement!”
The dancers came away in high spirits as the talent and creativity of all the teams were recognised by the judges and fellow dancers.

Swiss team Jananam said

“We got two important awards but more importantly we won a lot of new international friends!”

A member of the Canadian team told Tamil Guardian,

“all six countries did an amazing job in recreating definitions of freedom in the form of dance. I whole heartedly enjoyed every single performance and took home a message from each routine. It was an overall powerful show.

Abi from Team GB also commented,

“the victory is not just individual or for our team, it is a small victory for our people.
Tonight we came together as Tamils growing up in different countries to show a clear understanding of freedom and resistance to oppression, which is promising for the future of our own nation.”