AttenDance celebrates World Dance Day

May 18, 2017

On the occasion of World Dance Day, i.e. 29th April, Bangalore saw a large gathering of dancers. In its 7th year now, curated and conducted by Ashish Khokar, Alliance Francaise de Bangalore hosted it. Without any support from government or corporates, Khokar also conducts the Dance Discourse series every alternate month. Alliance Francaise de Bangalore supports it with a donation box at gate where audiences can donate what they deem fit. The idea is to also see what value society puts on dance and going by collections in the box, very little.

The idea of this World Dance Day is to give vast palette and opportunity to all, so anyone who is a member of AFB or AttenDance History Society can apply, are then auditioned and shortlisted. Balance is given to all forms, since some like Bharatanatyam dominate most India festivals. Even rare forms like Ottanthullal or Yakshagana are included. Modern dance always gets a slot. Then to give it an academic content, a topic is chosen, which is discussed by a peer group. This year it was GSP - Guru Shishya Parampara. Films on dance snippets from Khokar Archives and Doordarshan are shown, followed by actual dance by all who can be accommodated. The idea is inclusivity and chance is given to newcomers because newcomers need most support. Once they get established, they can survive and succeed.

The President of Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, Mr. Chiranjeev Singh, gave the keynote address. The show was presided by Khokar punctuated by his crisp, often humorous commentary. In keeping with the innocence of child artistes, every year, the littlest child performs first. This year, it was a little angel dancing Odissi. Then two kids presented passable Mohiniattam followed by Manipuri performed by teenagers of Angabala Irengom group.

Janaki receiving the Mohan Khokar Award

Release of Attendance annual
Photos: Ajay Singh

Then a one hour interactive seminar began with Khokar monitoring time and content. Many gurus, stars and icons were on stage together - Kanak Rele from Nalanda, Mumbai, Padmini Ravi, Usha Venkateswaran, Radha Shridhar, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Madhuri Upadhyay, Vijaya Marthanda, Mysore Nagaraj and youngsters like Sampada Nad and Tushar Bhatt. Each guru and teacher spoke clearly and to the point. The audience is always invited at the end of these discourses to interact but they seemed satisfied with the proceedings and spared everyone by not asking inane questions. Next, due to cyclone in Chennai last December, an attenDance awardee could not reach Bangalore, so S. Janaki of Sruti was handed her Mohan Khokar Award for art writing plaque by Dr. Kanak Rele. At the same time, attenDance 2017 issue was released. It's on GSP - Guru Shishya Parampara.

After so many appetizers, the real dance by seniors began. The idea was not to merely dance and go but to engage audiences. So the process of teaching and creation of dance was shown. How eye exercises, how hand positions, how various limbs go into making dance art. While this format served lesser known Yakshagana style well, the same could not be said of Guru Radha Shridhar rambling in Bharatanatyam. Sisters Bianca Radhakrishnan and Natasha did very well in both demo and dance sections. Modern dance by Nritarutya was short and effective. The Garuda was magnificent, even if feathers were made of foam!

Yakshagana by Chitkala Tunga

Bharatanatyam by twins Bianca and Natasha
Photos: Saroj Kumar Mishra

Kathak was conducted by Mysore Nagaraj, an articulate compere at Sai Venkatesh shows in past decade and budding dance teacher now. His student Laxminarayana Jena showcased mostly the technique of Kathak. Last but not least was Odissi by students of Madhulita Mohapatra. Anjali Urs gave a good demo while Meghana Das managed the new Pallavi her teacher has composed. In the end all came on stage together.

In all, it was four hours of a variety of Indian dance. Films shown were part promotional, though one on many gurus from all over India was an eye opener. Kalanidhi Narayanan, Protima Bedi, Zohra Segal, Maya Rao, so many greats gone, Kelubabu, M.K. Saroja, Pt Birju Maharaj, Raja Radha Reddy, Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, Astad Deboo, Daksha Seth, and many more were brought alive on stage. Khokar presented his best foot forward in dance for a full house. Many dancers duplicated as volunteers and helpers, making it truly a world dance day.