Taiwanese woman wedded to Indian Kathak dance

Taiwanese woman falls in love with Indian dance and henna art in New Delhi


NEW DELHI (Taiwan News) --  It was "quest for knowledge," that brought Chiu Wan Chu from Taiwan to New Delhi, first for two and half months and again for another seven years. Her first trip happened while she was doing a four-year bachelor course in Fine Arts at the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA) along with the Spanish Flamenco dance. 

"First, I came as a tourist at the age of 27 and wandered around Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place, the capital's heart, trying to learn about the centuries-old practice of mehendi designs (tattoos) embellished on the palms, feet and other body parts of women on special occasions like marriage and festivals, which I happened to see in California where I went to the Brooklyn University at the age of 19, for doing a short English course of two and a half months. As I had difficulty in communicating with these street artists, as I did not know Hindi, I observed their workmanship and I drew the designs on paper with pencils.

I also learned there is no institute or school to study the art as it is a family tradition and the dye is prepared from a commonly available plant, Lawsonia inermis, also known as hina, the henna tree, the mignonette tree, and the Egyptian privet. Disappointed, I went back and on the suggestion of my Flamenco teacher, I decided to join Kathak dance, as according to her, both Flamenco and Kathak are inter-related," she said.  

Luckily, she got a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, for a three-year certificate course in Kathak at the age of 28 in the year 2011. After the course, she opted to study another diploma course and again post-diploma course, which she will complete next year. She had first learned the dance under her guru (teacher) Swati Sinha and now under Dheerendra Tiwari. The course is affiliated to the Preeyag Sangeet Samiti, Allahabad. At the same time, she also found time to learn Hindustani Semi Vocal.

To a question, what's next, after the course, she said with a giggle, "I want to study other Indian musical instruments like tabla, and to master in Hindi language."

At 34, has she found an Indian husband yet? "No, I have no boyfriends either in India or abroad. I am fully devoted to my dance, and have no time for all that," she said categorically.

Moreover, she has not gone out of Delhi during these years. "I love reading, drawing, performing and watching performances, anything related to Art," during my spare time. Of course, she visits her hometown once a year during the one-month summer vacation.  

This reporter met her early this month, during a performance of the Taiwan International Youth Ambassadors, in which Chiu Wan Chu also performed with her Indian friends.