The countdown to Navratri, Gujarat’s favorite dance festival, has well and truly begun. Given that Vadodara’s garbas are famous globally and are in a league of their own, it hardly comes as a surprise that the new settlers in the city are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that they are fully prepared before the festival starts. And one vital aspect of the preparations involves learning those graceful garba moves. This is also that time of the year when garba classes in Vadodara do brisk business, because new learners as well as seasoned revellers are willing to spend on mastering the magical moves.

Richa Kothari, the owner of a city-based fitness studio which recently started a 15-day garba workshop, shares, “We have been organizing such workshops for the last three years and the response has been amazing. Since Vadodara is known for its amazing traditional garbas, learners are more eager about it. However, there are some who are open to learning other forms too, and we have an instructor who is well versed with different styles of garba. We have people from all age-groups coming here to learn, but the ones in the age-group of 25 to 35 are the most enthusiastic. Barodians love this festival and they aren’t too fussy about the fees.”

WHAT THE INSTRUCTORS TEACH: The instructors say that the students pick up the steps quite fast. Deepak Gohil, a garba teacher, shares, “People pick up the basic steps of bey taali and tran taali in almost no time. However, it takes them a little longer to pick up the steps of dodhiyu. My classes have a lot of non-Gujaratis coming over to learn, and the majority of them are North Indians who have settled here recently.”

NEW LEARNERS ARE ALL EXCITED: There are people who have been living in the city for years, but don’t know the garba steps well. Manoj Wadhwani, a doctor, tells us, “My wife is an expert at garba and every year, she used to complain that I don’t accompany her while dancing. I tried learning the steps earlier, but didn’t succeed. This year, I was determined to change that and joined a garba workshop, which has a good instructor. What has really helped is that they are teaching us the absolute basics before moving on to the different styles. I am very confident that I will have great fun this Navratri and manage the steps quite well.”

EVEN THE EXPERT PERFORMERS JOIN THE CLASSES: So what if you already know all the steps? Some revellers still don’t mind joining the classes to fine-tune their skills further and have some fun. Minal Kapasi, a dentist, shares, “I hail from Surat but I shifted here over a decade ago and instantly fell in love with the city’s garbas. We have a group of 10 women who dance together at a reputed garba venue and recently, five of us joined a garba workshop. We want to learn some new steps and styles, which we can perform at the venue during Navratri. Once we learn these, we will teach them to the other five members.”

The city’s garbas are a ‘class’ apart, and the revellers are putting their best foot forward to ensure that they groove right this Navratri.

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