Everyone knows this sound that set the adrenaline rushing in you! It is the sound that resonates in the air as Kalbeliya dancer swirls and slithers through the beat.
Renowned Rajasthani folk dancer Gulabo Sapera and her troupe performed Kalbeliya folk dance in the city of joy organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
Gulabo Sapera was the 7th child and she was buried alive after an hour of her birth but thankfully she was rescued by her aunt. She was named Dhanvanti in childhood and later her father nicknamed her Gulabo which became more popular.
“I was growing up with snakes, playing with them. Dancing like them came naturally,” says Gulabo, who adds that till then, women from the sapera community, didn’t dance in public. She would dance when her father played the been, just like the serpents did.
Gulabo was dancing and doing some stunts in Pushkar mela when she was spotted by Himmat Singh and Tripti Pandey (sister of Ila Arun) in Tourism Ministry. They were so impressed by this 13 year old girl who was dancing like there was no bone in her body that they had to showcase her innate talent. It was the time when Rajasthan tourism department had begun packaging the state as a tourist destination with abundance of art, culture and royalty. Gulabo was asked to perform on the centre stage. She was hesitant initially but when she performed, the stage was set on fire and there were oodles of applaud. Gulabo Sapera emerged as a Kalbelia dancer.
She was awarded the Padma Shri in 2016 and is the first and only woman from her community to be conferred with the nation’s esteemed civilian award.Gulabo has helped people from her community widen their horizons. She has helped many from her community to send their children to schools and look for opportunities outside their hometowns.She is part of the international culture and music circuit, part of jazz bands and a performer in films.She is a visiting teacher in Copenhagen, Denmark every year, to train children there in body-awareness and dance.She is a woman who has broken down more than the three walls she is aware of.