International Dance Day, which has been created by the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute in 1982, takes place every year on 29 April — the birth anniversary of Jean Georges Noverre, the creator of modern ballet.
Fascinating is the fact, that the day is observed globally through participation and education in dance; holding of dance festivals; seminars and involvement in dance fairs.
I had the rare chance of enjoying an evening of dance at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata with the West Bengal Dance Group Federation’s celebration of World Dance Day.
True to the objectives formulated by the International Dance committee, a well organised workshop in contemporary dance by Sangeeta Sharma, disciple of Pandit Narendra Sharma, — versed in the Udayshankar style of contemporary dance — was held to teach the discipline to aspirants.
Attendees of the workshop performed Naach amar naach tomar with vigour and zest, setting the spirit of the evening. President of the federation, Debjani Chaliha acknowledged the effort of the dancers.
Fifteen groups in all were short-listed to perform. Sumit Basu under the banner of Meitei Jagoi presented a well-defined classical Manipuri dance in creative choreography. It was a kind of pageant with music in varied and authentic Manipuri costumes.
The theatrical representation in contemporary dance of Firoza — Manish Samanta and Sukanto Chattopadhyay — raised a question that has been dogging our society. Search our hearts to find Firoza’s fault in falling in love and marrying a boy, be that as it may, belonging to the majority religious group of our country? The purpose of making a statement was fulfilled.
Kalinga Nartana Thillana was a creative choreographic work, covering almost the whole gamut of Krishna’s life. It was well represented by Sanjib and Sonali Samaddar. On the other hand, Jalsa Chandra performing troupe’s “She rose, she rises” with Poulami Chatterjee’s sonorous voice-over spoke of women’s empowerment through the powerful story of Jagyaseni.
Dancers’ Guild’s Krouncha Katha, a Manjusri Chaki Sarkar composition, was presented by Jonaki Sarkar and Parbati Gupta. Navanritya developed by the late Manjusri Chaki Sarkar was a giant step in the direction of contemporary ideas to convey burning issues.
Here she spoke about the near extinction of a bird species and the need to save it. Movements devised reminded this reviewer of Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, staged for the first time in Saddlers Theatre in London with the music of Tchaikovosky, where the swans were all males. Aesthetics of contemporary dance was there in full measure.
Bhasa Amar by Kinkini group of Sodepur spoke about the love for the motherland. Moving on, Sushmita Nandi Sethia’s In search of peace could not have been more current a topic. What with the sufferings of humanity that is seen every day causing deep fissures. What remains is only hope.
Amrita of Mamata Shankar ballet troupe displayed the teaching of a different genre altogether. It is not enough to learn to dance alone. The dancer is encouraged to choreograph as well. The beaming expression of her teacher Mamata Shankar, as she performed, was a feather in the cap of Amrita. This intense Bhakti piece was set to the music of Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Bhavana’s Shiva Stuti was no less eloquent. Marked by a lot of acrobatic movements, which perhaps could have been a little less, and the use of Kalaripayattu and movements of martial arts alongside Bharatanatyam steps, it gave vent to contemporary thought. Though based mainly on Bharatanatyam, it did not depend totally on its syntax. It had a great deal of unfettered movements.
Savana by Joydeep’s Palit’s Hritaal showed the spirits of animals, in the open grasslands of Africa. Lighting effect for this production was commendable, especially when it showed the coming of dawn. Ashok Tapan Adhikari and sons did a good job with the lighting to enhance the visual effects. But Bidhan Roy Chowdhury’s production, dealing with love, was lost on this reviewer. Perhaps the film song was off-putting.
Choreographer Subhajit Das based his story on the activities of Vishnu Avatar. His treatment of the subject and the use of dance syntax — not adhering to a learnt classical tradition — showed his creative quality. On the other hand, Brahma Kamal’s Astra Vidya was captivating and perhaps it is a mere suggestion of what women need today.
Chandradoy Ghosh, as master of ceremonies, was the right person behind the wheels. He was at his best even during moments of crisis, like technical failures.
Minutes before the evening show I had the opportunity of glancing through the words of a successful dancer to aspirants, which I quote,
“Want to be a good dancer? Then practice.
Want to be a very good dancer? Then dedicate.
Want to be a fantastic dancer? Then learn to win the battle of odds. Want to be a dancer with a difference? Then fall in love with dance.”