This was the 11th year of Geeta Chandran’s  Natya Vriksha celebrating the World Dance Day (WDD) with a seminar and Young Dancers Festival at the India International Centre (IIC). Hosted in collaboration with ministry of culture and the IIC, with support from Oil India, NTPC and Indian Oil, the WDD-2016, held on the 30 April and 1 May, offered manifold dimensions and facets of Indian classical dance. There were special morning sessions demonstrating Bharatanatyam class at Natya Vriksha by Geeta Chandran and "Muscle Memory" movement workshop by Anita Ratnam.

 Yamini Krishnamurthy, who was recently honoured with the Padma Vibhushan, was invited for a dialogue with Geeta Chandran on the inaugural day. Responding to the queries by Geeta, the doyenne of dance shared her life’s journey, her precious memories and thoughts with a receptive audience at the IIC hall filled to capacity. A unique tribute to the recently departed Abhinaya queen Kalanidhi Narayanan was offered the next day by her three special students Guru Jamuna Krishnan, Rasika Khanna and Pratibha Prahlad,  preceded by a short video film on her.

 Natya Vriksha’s prestigious Young Dancers Festival-2016 presented four young talents, including Bhavana Reddy, daughter and disciple of the famed first family of Kuchipudi, Raja-Radha-Kaushalya Reddy, who were there to conduct Bhavana’s scintillating Kuchipudi dance performance. This was followed by a unique presentation by Swarnamalya Ganesh from Chennai. Alluringly titled From the Attic, the unusual recital was her research-based re-creation of the old form of Bharatanatyam, the Sadir dance of the Devadasi, through an interactive performance explaining each item that she presented.

 The second day of the Young Dancers Festival featured Bharatanatyam by the versatile dancer Vasudevan Iyengar, who also sang along in his well-trained tuneful voice. The second dancer Sanjukta Sinha, the gifted disciple of Kumudini Lakhia from Ahmedabad, presented a mesmerising Kathak choreography Riwayat, meaning tradition. Performed within the confines of the conventional Kathak repertoire, Sanjukta’s presentation portrayed mystical love, using subtle Bhava expressions, flowing movements, intricate footwork and challenging rhythmic patterns. Riwayat was also a musical journey in search of the Beloved opening with "Piya tu mila bhi hai juda bhi hai, Sanam bhi hai Khuda bhi hai…" sung in Anibaddh, or free-flowing Aalap-like rendering. The melodious compositions like the Chhota Khayal in raga Yaman "Piya ki nazariya jadu bhari moh liyo man…"  and the concluding "Oh Maula…" that sounded mystically divine.

 

WDD-2016 by Spandan.

The open spaces of the Atrium in India Habitat Centre comes alive every year around the WDD with an exquisite exhibition of dynamic dance photographs curated by R Srinivasan. The large photography installations, paying tribute to legendary institutions, movements and Gurus of dance, were the focus of Spandan-2016.

 Spandan performing arts festival, along with Nartanam, a quarterly journal of Indian dance, organised a worthwhile evening to celebrate the WDD at the Amaltas Hall. Prof Lokesh Chandra, president, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), released special issues of Nartanam dedicated to the living legends Kapila Vatsyayan, scholar in classical Indian dance, art, architecture and history; Padma Subrahmanium dancer, choreographer and scholar, and Avinash Pasricha celebrated dance photographer along with the book An Indian Analysis of Aesthetics; The Dance,The Dancer and the Spectator; authored by Madhavi Puranam, editor, Nartanam. The evening, conceived by Sunil Kothari and efficiently anchored by Indira Ganesh, concluded with a bewitching Bharatanatyam recital by the eminent danseuse Rama Vaidyanathan.