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Shanta Rati Misra
by Rashmi Hemrajani, Mumbai
e-mail: rashmi@ceepee.biz
Photos: Col. Prakash


January 11, 2004

"If dance is poetry in motion, then Kuchipudi dancer, Shanta Rati Misra is certainly reciting some of the best poems on stage."

Shanta Rati Misra belongs to a new generation of exponents who are the ambassadors of Indian Culture. Born and brought up at Singapore (and now based in Mumbai), she is an exponent of Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. As a youngster, Shanta also trained in ballet.
Shanta’s mother was a classical Carnatic musician. Her father, who saw her dance to any music as a toddler, decided to have her trained in Bharatanatyam and at the age of five, took her to Kalanidhi Narayan. Shanta’s first public appearance was as a six-year-old for an Indian cultural event in Singapore in the late 1970s. When she was eight, she started leaning Kathakali from Oyur Govinda Pillai. It was Raja and Radha Reddy who motivated her to learn Kuchipudi. She also had the opportunity of being trained under eminent gurus of classical Indian dance like Adyar Lakshman, Vempati Chinna Satyam and others.

With a group of people drawn in from the different fields of Indian arts, Shanta set up an art foundation called Antara to promote Kuchipudi and to nurture talent among the underprivileged. Antara is meant not only for promoting Indian classical dance forms, but also to promote drawings, music and crafts traditional to India.

In the words of Shanta, "Through the Antara Foundation I wish to bring various traditions of visual and performing art to today’s audience without losing its intrinsic value or compromising on its sensibilities. My aim is to make Indians aware and proud of their heritage." Her dream for Antara is that it will grow big enough to nurture the talents that fail to find exposure and provide them with financial assistance to help them blossom.
Achievements
She has conceptualized, choreographed, scripted and directed a dance and theatre production “Writings on the Wall” using Chinese and Indian calligraphy and dance techniques blended with modern dance, premiered with a Singapore dance company in Singapore in January 1999. In this production she had developed the Devnagiri script into pictorial form and juxtaposed it with Chinese calligraphy in an ode to nature.

She has participated in Ashta Nayika project with Nehru Centre encompassing all the seven classical dance styles of India on July 1999.

She was commissioned to choreograph Indian dance movements to Oud music of the Middle East for the Babylon Festival.

In Feb 2002, she was commissioned by NASSCOM to do a show “Where Technology Meets Tradition.”

In April 2002, Shanta was commissioned to do “Rhythms in Motion” by the Times Group (360 degrees) using Chenda-melam, Kalaripayattu and dance vocabulary, blending the classical with the contemporary (Chennai).

She revived the “Vachika” or dialogue aspect of Kuchipudi in “Bama Kalapam” in June 2002 (Kerala).

In Nov. 2002, she was commissioned to do “Designs in Dance” by Surabhi Foundation (New Delhi), drawing the parallelism between architecture, sculpture, painting and dance.

As a film maker
Shanta has researched, scripted produced and directed "And Miles to flow" in 35mm which was selected for the International Documentary Festival in 1998. It traces the evolution of Kathakali. It also focuses on similar elements with Japanese dance forms like Kabuki and Noh as well as the Chinese opera.

For TV, she made the “Hamsanaama” series on Indian miniature paintings.

Performances
Master of ceremonies for several dance festivals and stage performances.

Shanta gives lec-dems in schools and colleges on the principles of dance. She presented a series of interactive lecture demonstrations and performances in Azerbaijan, Russia.

She has given several performances in Australia, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Iraq and USA.
In India, her major performances include
· the Khajuraho Dance Festival
· the Elephanta Dance festival, Mumbai
· the Sangeet Nitya Samaroh organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations
· the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Nrityotsav, Delhi
· the Sahitya Kala Parishad in Delhi
· the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Nrityotsav in Bangalore
· the Udaipur palace, Udaipur
· Vaastu Kaushal organised by the Surabhi Foundation at Delhi.
· Dance and Music Festival, Chennai.

Awards and Accolades
At the tender age of 15, Shanta was selected by the Singapore government to represent the country as its cultural ambassadress. She was awarded the Gold Medallion in 1990 for her contribution towards Indian Culture and achievements in the field of dance.

Felicitated for her experimental work in Arts and Trans Asian Chambers and industry in 2000, towards contemporising the performing arts for the modern audiences in the attempt to increase the audience base.

Awarded the ‘Kala Shiromani’ for her contribution to promote Indian Art and Culture by Sahyog Foundation in August 2002.

Address:
Shanta Rati Misra
103, Daffodils, 56 Pali Hill
Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050
Ph: (91 - 22) - 605 9000
Telefax: (91 - 22) - 605 9900
E-mail: shantarati3@rediffmail.com / info@shantarati.com.