A new dance trend: World Dance Day-Bangalore  
- Ashish Mohan Khokar, Bangalore 
e-mail: khokar1960@gmail.com 

 May 12, 2009 

 
Bangalore, the 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.  
  
Although UNESCO 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!).  

Dancers also 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 global world. 
  
Thus, small 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. 
Performance schedule 
  

Madhu Nataraj
Sonali
Inaugurated by 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.  
  
Sai Arts International
Sai Arts International
 
The Kuchipudi 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.  
  
R 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. 

While World 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. 
  
Ramli Ibrahim 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.  

Bangalore showed 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!  
  
Much bonhomie 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! 
 

Ashish 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.