The Margazhi celebrations are not over as yet. The Music Academy has saved the best for the last and their dance festival is all set to gloss the conclusion for this Season, like the proverbial cherry and icing on Chennai’s culture-cake. A sneak-preview into what’s hot on the dance floor this year

Even though Bharatamuni didn’t intend to separate the art of dance and music in the Natyashastra, most sabhas end up making dance calendars very different from the music ones. This year marks two very significant and historic dates on the dance calendar; the bicentenary celebrations of Vadivelu of the illustrious Tanjore Quartet and the centenary celebrations of Vazhuvoor Ramaiah Pillai. Curating a dance festival is not an easy job, however The Music Academy, reputed for its fine balance of both music and dance programs, has lined up some exciting shows this Season between January 3 and 9. The morning and afternoon slots (free entryl) have grown to become prestigious launch pads for several artistes’ careers over the years. Promising youngsters such as Navia Natarajan, Odissi dancer Arushi Mudgal and Aishwarya Balasubramanian are all set to enthrall audiences.

The sunset slots (6 p.m.) are when the queens emerge and dazzle the dance floor with their brilliance. Priyadarsini Govind inaugurates this year’s festival on the January 3. The others in the same slot, over the next few days are seasoned dance divas Alarmel Valli, Rama Vaidyanathan and Mythili Prakash who will present new margams. Malavika Sarukkai will perform her new choreographic work ‘Shakti-Shaktiman’. “I am excited to perform something from the Tanjore quartet,” says an excited Rama. “We have curated a special margam for the Academy festival called ‘Gold’ as a tribute to Guru Kitappa Pillai and are presenting a rare varnam and the Rudraganika Kautuvam. It’s an effort to bridge the gap between the 19th and 21st centuries and not make these compositions feel like archaic museum pieces,” says Toronto-based dancer and choreographer Harikrishnan, also a professor at Wesleyan University, who performs on January 4 with Srividya Natarajan.

There are several choreographic works and dance-dramas on the platter from all the various classical genres. A smart balance has been made to represent dance forms like Kuchipudi, Odissi, Kathak and Yakshagana to give rasikas an overall experience. ‘Sita Swayamvaram’ a classic Kalakshetra ballet choreographed by Rukmini Devi Arundale, ‘Duryodhana Vadha’ by Keremane Shivananda Hedge in Yakshagana, ‘Parishvanga Pattabhishekam’ by Anita Guha and ‘Paavai Nonbu’ by Padma Subramanyam are a few of the attractions. Padma Subramanyam is also being honoured with the Natya Kala Acharya award this year.

A fun-filled dance carnival is in store from the crème de la crème of the dance world as the New Year begins.