A new dance
trend: World Dance Day-Bangalore
- Ashish Mohan
coolest metro city in India today (hill stations are small and not cities
or metros), literally and dance-wise, came up with almost a week long celebration
of World Dance Day, a trend fast catching up for ever-in-need of showing
their art dancers and dance enthusiasts.
declared 29th of April as World Dance Day in the mid-eighties, no one knew
of it or took notice in India, until recently. This has happened because
most trends come to India quite late! and practically, by April end, when
summer starts to descend in full force, dance season in most cities is
over, with dancers-gurus planning summer trips abroad and ten-day learn
all workshops (more shops than work!).
need any excuse, any platform, any opportunity to display their art, so
fragile it is as an art form and today with so many dancers, there are
less and less forums, occasions or platforms. When I ask around, few in
India know why World Dance Day is celebrated or in whose name and memory
the event unfolds, but that itís yet another occasion to dance and thatís
good enough. Many question, why we are celebrating some French ballet master
and not our own greats and I agree entirely, nay, in fact, unlike globetrotters,
I'm a committed Indian and nationalist to boot, so I second it, but also
add, that international conventions are to be followed as we live in a
and sane Bangalore with a population of only 6/7 million (Can any statistic
in India be accurate and then too, whatís a few millions between friends?!)
boasts of the only 12 hour, non-stop dance marathon anywhere in the country.
Presenting this was Sai Venkatesh, a trained dancer, who after an accident
could not dance and thus took to light design and hall management services
(and no show of merit in Bangalore is artistically complete without his
professional inputs), whose Sai Arts International presented over a hundred
dancers on 29th April at Seva Sadan Hall in artiste-dense Malleswaram.
Bangalore dancing beauty Madhu Nataraj, the event began early morning at
nine and continued non-stop till over nine pm. A fine and a fetching opening
group ensemble work by students of Sai Arts International, under teacher
Suparna Venkatesh's baton proved the school's credentials followed by a
smiling heavyweight Kathak aspirant Laxmi's rendition. The saintly looking
Pulikesi, singer-dancer-writer-director, with Shantala and students showed
benign Bharatanatyam that was followed by Anuradha Vikranth's group, of
whom one little nine-year old, Sonali, shone like a budding star. This
girl is like Baby Kamala and her hastas are even better! She recites each
shloka as she dances with abandon and delight, winning many hearts for
her art. She was the find of this event for this observer. Having seen
dance almost for 45 years now - almost daily! - I can say, it is delightful
when one sees a pure, innocent, budding star child dancer.
next, spoilt the whole morning with unfinished stances, loose limbs, no
postures and no sense of either rhythm or melody. Such groups should not
be included in such events. There is no need to bring down the level of
the entire event just to accommodate.
Shreyas of Mangalore was an interesting talent to watch, boys being so
few in dance, although Bangalore has maximum number of male dancers. Shridhar
Jain, a handsome, dashing film star and dancer of Mysore sat next to me
and talked of dance in Mysore, where unlike Bangalore, no one came together
to mount such a feat.
Dance Day is being celebrated all over, many cities like Trivandrum where
I landed the same evening was sans any event! Delhi was in top gear as
all UN and govt types originate in that city so the Rajiv/Geeta Chandran
event and tete-e-tete was very well attended.
A few days
later at Guru Lalitha Srinivasan's Nupura 5 day festival, there were Ramli
Ibrahim, one of the finest male dancers and a small group of Tandava Bharatanatyam
boys (Ananth Nagaraj and team) also regaled us who had assembled a seminar
on "Inclusivity" in dance where Sunil Kothari, in town at invitation of
Nupura, joked he knew not much of the idea and concept of "inclusivity,"
moderated, while this observer gave a key-note address and Dr. Choodamani
Nandagopal and Hamsalekha spoke from their hearts, without much preparation
on the topic.
the great, was in town first with Australian Anandavalli and 'Rasa Unmasked'
and then with his own superb 'Spellbound' and also later conducted an intense
training course for Vani Madhav, who is trying to spread Orissi in the
city, along with her compatriot in Orissi, Sharmila Mukherjee, who has
had a head start in this process. Both are trying to help the teach-Orissi
vacuum, especially as Nrityagram girls are never in Bangalore but abroad
and their teaching-in-town experiment attempt started a few years ago,
did not take off as they were never here continuously in town/in India
to train regularly. Uday Shetty, the first male student of Nrityagram,
now sporting a ponytail, can help fill that gap too.
All of the
above and many more were also present at Guru Maya Rao's birthday on 2nd
May morningís feast of flowers and food organized by the staff and students
of the Natya Insitutute. Prof. Vijaya Marthanda, Minal Prabhu, Balan Nambiar,
Shri Chiranjeev Singh, refined former culture secretary and Ambassador
to UNESCO; art, crafts and education patron Vimala Rangachar, theatirist
Kanappan, light designer Ramamoorthy, younger local stars, Madhu Nataraj,
Niru-Rajendra, and dancers Sharmila, Janardhan, Ponappa, Ramya, Nandini
Mehta, Pratham and even a few gatecrashers in town from outside, wanted
to be part of this gracious guruís 82nd birthday celebration.
that dance and dancers can be happy and amiable and non-aggressive about
turf and opportunities. Globetrotter Sunil Kothari, who can be best described
as a Narada-muni of dance, admitted Bangalore to be a very nice city where
most people were so kind and genuine, even in the dance field, that he
was at a loss how dancers can be so friendly to each other and welcoming.
A lesson in "inclusivity" I would say! He borrowed a phrase from the late
Subuddu (another maverick, Narada-muni type) that to live in the capital
was a capital punishment!
and camaraderie happens in Bangalore, naturally. We don't even have to
make an attempt at being nice and genuine. It is a natural state of being.
No wonder, I call it the coolest city in India today, and especially in
dance. Hence our motto: Let peace prevail on earth! Keep dancing (and singing
and....) Happy Dance Day!
Mohan Khokar, well known dance critic, editor-publisher of attendance,
occasionally deviates from serious and scholarly writings and takes a humorous
look at dance directions, trends and perspectives.