Sailaja's interest in learning more about Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi led to her organising a national symposium on dance.

Dancer Sailaja is getting ready to host the third edition of ‘Tradition, Transition and Transformation in Classical Dances' on September 18 and 19 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai.

But what spurred Sailaja, the founder-director of Saila Sudha Academy of Excellence in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, to do this? It is her interest in learning more about the dance styles she was practising that made her organise a seminar on Kuchipudi in 2008. She invited scholars and dancers from different parts of the country to speak on ‘Tradition, Transition and Transformation' in the morning and to perform in the evening.

Resource for research

She says, “The response was restricted to only those who had an interest in this style. I was happy, but I felt I could reach out to more people if I brought down experts in other classical styles as well. So I decided to make it a pan-India experience. You can even call it my effort at national integration!”

“I am conscious that this has to benefit people in the future. We document the morning sessions, so that we can compile them in the future for research purposes. We also bring out a souvenir free of cost every year, with articles written by scholars and dancers, not necessarily only those who are participating in the seminar.”

This year's two-day symposium in Chennai presents senior artists from varied dance styles.

The participating artists are Sudharani Raghupathy with her students and the Kalakshetra  Repertory (Bharatanatyam), Aruna Mohanty (Odissi), Sashidhar Acharya (Chhau), musicologist S.A.K. Durga, Tamil scholar and lyricist Dr. S. Raghuraman and Sailaja (Kuchipudi).

The symposium will honour 12 artists from various fields such as music (Rajkumar Bharati), stage decor (Nagarajan- Manohar Theatres), folk music (Anusuya Devi), literature (Dr. S. Raghuraman) and tambura artist (Ganeshan) amongst others.

The event is to be inaugurated by S.Jagathrakshakan, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, and will be presided over by mridangam vidwan Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. With funding from Sangeet Natak Akademi, the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and other corporate and personal sponsors, admission is free.