For 28-long-years, Kinkini has been organising dance festivals purely for the love of dance. Rangashree, its founder, brings all classical forms together on a single stage

“Kinkini means the resounding sound of the bells,” explains Rangashree, the brain behind Kinkini, an organisation that has been promoting dance. Their annual Nrithyotsava is a National Festival of Dance that features all the classical dance forms of India.

“My dance is 29-years-old and Kinkini is just a year younger. Strange, but Kinkini started on the day I performed my rangapravesha — June 16, 1983,” recalls this Bharatanatya dancer, who adds: “The aim was to provide young budding talents a platform. And also have established names perform so that we could get an audience,” she adds. Some of the dancers that started with Rangashree and were a part of the Kinkini fest have become big names today – Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Sheshadri Iyengar, Satyanarayana Raju to name a few.

Rangashree moved to Kuwait in 2002. But that did not put a stop to Kinkini's activities. She, in fact, started the Kinkini Kuwait Chapter, which also celebrated its 10th anniversary and “was well covered in the newspapers there,” she says happily.

Rangashree gives the complete credit to the success of her dance fest to her parents – Gopinath and Yamuna. “Kinkini is more a people's organisation. It's like a large art family. We are the only organisation where viewers have formed a fan club that actually raises a fund for the artistes. It's because of all their help that the entry to the festival is free every year,” says the dancer. “Call it luck or just good fortune, but Kinkini has always had a full house. Not just here, but also in Kuwait. We have a dedicated set of audience that come every year even from Chennai and Rajasthan.”

Rangashree started by learning Cartatic music, but it was Bharatanatya that swept her off her feet. “I started learning at the age of 12 from B.S. Kaushik, and later from Bhanumati, Padmini Ramachandran and Narmada.”

The reason for her success, she says, “I was never a passive learner but questioned everything that did not appeal to my sense of aesthetics. I always had understanding teachers, who never discouraged me for I wanted to be different though the rules and the form and the styles in classical dance is already set. It's just like a language, where the alphabet and grammar are the same, but each one has a different style of writing. That's how I wanted my dance to be. To communicate to people what I thought and felt. For me dance is a rapport between the dancer and the viewer,” explains Rangashree.

She also says that Kinkini only projects classical dance form, “because I am a stickler for tradition. Though I have been part of contemporary dance productions, my heart is with the classical forms. So we feature all the seven classical dance forms – Bharatanatya, Kathak, Kathakali, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Yakshagana and Sattriya, which is new to the classical dance world.”

Kinkini is a seven-day long fest, where they feature at least 125 dancers and musicians. There are two performances every day. “The only pre-requisite is that the dancer should dance to a live and not recorded music. It makes so much of a difference. There is no boundary and a dancer can have a real good time if the music is live. Even the audience enjoys the show better and the dancer can improve her piece on the spot by decreasing the length or shortening it depending on the audience response. Even when it comes to abhinaya, she can interpret the mood in so many different ways,” says the dancer, who also enjoys being a teacher.

“If you hold back knowledge you never gain it,” she says. If young dancers are eager to get on stage and also get an encouraging audience they can log on to www.kinkini.org and fill in their applications. “A panel of experts will choose and select the dancers who will be a part of our dance fest the coming year,” she adds.

Kinkini Nrityotsava is on till January 28, JSS Auditorium, Jayanagar, Bangalore.