The Year 2016 was heralded with Natya-Samagam, a festival of traditional art forms organised by the Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA), where one could watch Kutiyattam and Nangiarkoothu from Kerala, Macha from Madhya Pradesh, Nautanki and Ramleela from Uttar Pradesh, Raas Leela and Nata-Sankeertan from Manipur and many more captivating performances from all over the country . The SNA programmes of music, dance, theatre, puppet show Putul Yatra and the variety of folk traditions were organised nationwide on all 365 days of the year at some or the other place and one could watch it live on SNA webcast from anywhere in the world.
The world-renowned Khajuraho Festival of classical dances, held against the spectacular backdrop of the magnificently-lit Khajuraho temples, was the next big event. This year it comprised solo, duets and group dances in Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi, Mohiniyattam, Manipuri, Saraikela Chhau and contemporary dance styles. Although many festivals like the Konark, Mahabalipuram, Modhera and Hampi came up inspired by Khajuraho dance festival, but none could match the splendour and variety it offers. Along with classical dances it has also underlined the inter-relationship of our arts with events like Nepathya, the cultural showcase and voyage of Indian dance styles, the Art Conclave with International Art Mart, where 12 other countries along with India participated, Hunar the indigenous traditional arts fete, Chalchitra a cinematic tribute to art traditions and creators, and Kala-Varta, a dialogue on arts.
Pune University organised a relevant seminar-cum-festival on choreography. The Sharangdev Prasang, organised by Mahagami Gurukul at Aurangabad, saw some remarkable dance presentations by Parvati Dutta, who presented Shivaratri, based on a Dhrupad composition of Gopal Nayak in raga Devagiri Bilawal and Nrityankan, depicting the sculptures of Ellora Caves in Odissi style. Layangikam, the Pune-based Kathak Institute of Archana Sanjay, the earnest disciple of Guru Rajendra Gangani, organised Katha Kathak Antardhara, a residential Kathak workshop at an Ashram-like atmosphere of Rambhau Mhalagi Prabodhini, near Mumbai, where Pt Suresh Talwalkar and Guru Rajendra Gangani had inspiring and knowledgeable sessions of Tala and Laya, the rhythmic aspects of the dance form.
The latest marvel of the Malaysia-based Odissi dancer Ramli Ibrahim "Jangam" left the audience spellbound, showcasing the magic of Ramli's excellence as a brilliant dancer, choreographer and costume designer, carrying forward the classical, folk traditional dance traditions of Odisha, particularly the art heritage of Jangam transformed into a contemporary crescendo. The National festival of creative arts, organised by Impresario India at Stein auditorium of the Habitat Centre, presented beautiful group choreographies in different dance styles. The Takshila Festival, Patna had the Bharatanatyam recital by Rama Vaidyanathan, apart from the vocal by Shashwati Mandal, Sanjeev Abhyankar and Sitar recital by Ud Shujat Khan.
The Spic Macay (SM) International Convention (Intercon), held at the IIM Guwahati, had a plethora of dance with umpteen variety from the North-East, like the Bihu from Assam, Manipuri Raas and Nat-Sankeertan from Manipur, Lion dance from Sikkim, Wangla dance from Meghalaya, Hojagiri from Tripura and Naga dance from Nagaland. The World Dance Festival was celebrated by Natya Vriksha of Guru Geeta Chandran with the Young Dancers Festival and by Spandan with an exquisite exhibition of dance photography by R Srinivasan and a month-long arts festival that culminated in an evening of dance, showcasing a spectacular melange of dance forms from India and abroad. Bhubaneshwar-based Italian Odissi danseuse Ileana Citaristi presented explorations in Odissi, a three-day festival at Kamani Auditorium. Rangayan, the pioneering institute of music, dance and theatre presented Rang Sangam at Shrimant Sankaradeva Kalakshetra, Guwahati
The significant Simhastha that falls after the gap of 12 years, was a remarkable festival organised by the Madhya Pradesh government on the banks of the holy river Kshipra, Ujjain. The Kala Utsav, presented by the ministry of culture, showcased the best of traditional, folk and classical music and dance simultaneously at seven venues (Manch), named after Bharat Muni, Bhartrihari, Bhoj, Triveni, Kalidasa, Vikramaditya and Varahmihir, featured more than 42,000 artistes, including the likes of Pt Jasraj, Ajay Chakravarty, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Anup Jalota, Brij Narayan, Aarati Ankalikar, Kamla Shankar, Uma Dogra, Geeta Chandran, and the month-long Ramleela.
The rejuvenated Natya Ballet Centre presented its first Natya Ballet Dance Festival with a three-day seminar and performance at the SNA's Meghdoot complex. Ignite Festival of contemporary dance by the Gati Dance Forum, celebrated Chandralekha with a photo exhibition of her works and an enriching talk by Sadanand Menon. The annual Winter Festival of Music and Dance marked the year-end of the cultural calendar of the India International Centre (IIC). There was a lot of music and dance of all varieties during 2016, but this proliferation has allowed the mediocrity to creep in stealthily, this is an alarming trend that has to be taken care of.
The year 2016 also witnessed the passing away of Dr Balamurali Krishna, Vidushi Mrinalini Sarabhai, Kalamandalam Satyabhama, Guru Surendra Nath Jena, Ud Sabri Khan, Ud Ghulam Sadiq Khan, Tabla player Lachhu Maharaj and Shankar Ghosh, who will all be remembered for their contribution to the field of Indian classical music and dance.