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Celebration of dance

Manjari Sinha |

The World Dance Day (WDD) on 29th April, which was introduced in 1982 by the International Dance Committee of the UNESCO International Theatre Institute, was celebrated in the Capital with enthusiasm as multifarious dance-related events were presented by different institutions and individuals.

The WDD, in fact, became the world dance week starting with Geeta Chandran&’s Natyvriksha&’s two day Young Dancers Festival comprising a book launch, film screening, lecture-demonstration, talk and discussions; to World Culture Forum&’s panel discussion; and Spandan&’s World Dance Photography Exhibition at the Habitat Center, curated by the ace photographer R Sreenivasan, celebrating World Dance Month from 24 April to 25 May.

Natyavriksha and Geeta Chandran&’s innovative endeavour of organising a Young Dancers’ Festival on WDD has become not only the most awaited event but has also set a qualitative standard of dance for young artistes.

The entire galaxy of dancers and dance scholars had veritably descended at the IIC auditorium on 25 and 26 April for Natyavriksha&’s WDD celebrations that opened with the book launch of the senior dance critic Leela Venkataraman&’s book ‘Indian Classical Dance: The Renaissance and Beyond’ published by Niyogi Books. Kapila Vatsyaayan, Guru Singhjeet Singh, Pavan Varma, Shanta Sarbjeet Singh, Guru Lakshmi Vishwanathan along with the author and publisher Vikas Niyogi unveiled the book.

This was followed by ‘Navadarshanam’, a performance of group choreographies by senior dancers of Natya Vriksha Dance Company. They comprised Sneha Chakradhar, Divya Saluja, Sharanya Chandran, R Amrit Shruti and Radhika Kathal who impeccably presented the Nritta and Abhinaya aspects of Bharatnatyam in a Mallari, Samyukta and a Javali depicting Khandita Naayika.

The inaugural evening concluded with the screening of a beautiful film ‘Vara’, directed by international filmmaker (Rinpoche) Khyentse Norbu from Bhutan, where Geeta Chandran plays the role of a Devadasi and her students also participate. The second day opened with ‘Dharohar’, a Bharatanatyam performance by Natya Vriksha Dance Company.

The afternoon session titled ‘Rasa in Dance – Inspiration and Imagination’ offered an enriching illustrated talk by Guru Lakshmi Vishwanathan from Chennai. The talk progressed from theory to practice, exploring and drawing inspiration from parallels in art.

Lakshmi who believes that dance is the ornamentation of the ‘idea of poetry’, took the Rasikas on a journey of imagined and real beauty, dancing to a Telugu Javali, Kshetraiya Padams and Tamil Pasuram of Alvars, concluding with Jayadeva&’s  Ashtapadi “Priye Charusheele…”, beautifully sung by her niece.

The young dancers of the concluding evening were the upcoming Kuchipudi dancer T Reddi Lakshmi, gifted disciple of Gurus Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao who gave a mesmerising performance comprising Poorva-Ranga, Swathi Thirunal&’s Bhajan, Bhama Kalaapam, Jaavali and Tarangam.

The Young Dancers Festival and the two-day celebration of WDD by Natyavriksha concluded with the brilliant Kathak performance of Vishal Krishna, the dynamic dancer from Benaras Gharana born into the illustrious family of Acharya Sukhdev Maharaj and grand-nephew of the legendary Sitara Devi.

Panel discussion

Shanta Sarbjeet Singh, founder and general secretary of the World Culture Forum, India (WCFI), organised an interesting panel discussion on the role of culture in human development, as part of the three-day CII event on the Global Exhibition of the Indian Service sector held at Pragati Maidan.

The topic was ‘Culture: The Wonder-Glue that binds India’ and the panelists were Jawahar Sircar, CEO of Prasar Bharati, Nevilie Tuli, founder chairman Osian, KapilaVenu, exponent of Koodiyattam, an ancient Kerala Sanskrit Theatre form, Jayant Kastuar, senior Kathak exponent and Usha Ramanathan, human and cultural rights lawyer.

Ananda Shankar Jayant, director, Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Hyderabad, efficiently moderated the deliberations on culture as a driver of economy and how the performing arts are the soft power of the country. The speeches by Sircar and Tuli were thought provoking while the other speakers/ panelists were engaging.