by Kalyani Giri 

August 2001

HOUSTON, TEXAS - Internationally renowned dancers of the classical, contemporary and eclectic genres, a veritable 'who's who' listing of erudite scholars and critics of the arts and dignitaries from around the world shall converge on the city of Houston during Sept.1 - 3, 2001, when non-profit  
organization Samskriti Society Of Performing Arts hosts a history-making first ever dance conference in North America. The event dubbed "Indian Dance In The Diaspora - Traditions And Innovations", has promise to be a culturally stimulating, visual and educational extravaganza. The inaugural ceremony  
shall take place at the Cullen Performance Hall, Wortham Center with a presentation of "SRISHTI" by a the Anjali Dance Company (Houston) and the Academy of Indian Performing Arts (Boston), another first by way of North America's international dance collaboration. The event moves to Rice University's Hamman Hall thereafter with presentations, seminars, lectures and demonstrations. The program, has a stellar billing:- acclaimed Padmashri Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam and her dance troupe from India will perform the timeless Hindu epic "BHAGAVADGITA" and Mallika Sarabhai's Darpana Dance  
Academy shall present "JANAVAK", showcasing the colorful and exhilarating folk dances of India. A premiering specially choreographed contemporary dance work "GAYATHRI", featuring Chennai's Narendra Kumar along with Houston's Anjali Dance Company shall be performed in celebration of the latter's twenty-fifth anniversary. This item details the powerful force behind the sacred Gayathri manthra which has it's origins in the ancient Vedas.  

Invited dignitaries and speakers include the Consul General of India to Houston Mr. Rinzing Wangdi, Douglas C. Sonntag - Director, Dance Programs, National Endowments for the Arts, C. C. Conner - Executive Director, Houston Ballet, Deborah Quanaim - Dean, Dept. of Dance, Houston Community College, Piali Ray - Director, SAMAPAD, U. K., and India's international music and dance magazine SRUTI's editor Pattabhi Raman. Coming in from India to formally release his book on Kuchipudi, the classical dance form of Andhra Pradesh, is erudite authority on dance, Dr. Sunil Kothari. Scholars and  
critics Prof. and Mrs. V. Subramaniam of Canada and Leela Venkataraman and Ashish Khokar from India along with renowned dancers Sonal Mansingh and Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar shall also be in attendance. Artistic Director of New York's Battery Dance Company Jonathan Hollander who has done several collaberative dance performances with Houston's Anjali Dance Company shall also be present. 

The conference was conceived and devised by Houston's well known danseuse and director of the Anjali Dance Company, Rathna Kumar. I was inspired by two other conferences I had attended in Canada a couple of years ago, called "New Directions in Indian Dance" presented by Kalanidhi  
Fine Arts, and the second was last February in Birmingham, England - a real eye-opener to me called "Nava disha 2000" also meaning, "New Directions" presented by SAMPAD. Both conferences focused on not only traditional Indian dance but also on how dancers have taken their training in traditional dance beyond the confines of strict traditions and have extended the boundaries by adding social themes, innovative, lighting, unusual props, spoken word - breaking away from the norms of costume and jewellery normally associated with these dance forms. The favorable reaction by the audience to such creativity was ample proof that such innovations are gaining in popularity all over the world. While there are active and different dance scenes in Canada and Europe, I thought that the climate was right to do something similar in North America." 

The conference is part funded by Cutural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County and co-sponsored by TICKETS2EVENTS.COM. Lovers of the arts and students of dance are urged to attend this unique event, truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. For more detailed information and program guide or for  
online registration and tickets, go to TICKETS2EVENTS.COM or e-mail: