Returning from a 20-day dance tour across the European continent, dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant says that she has experienced every “dancer’s dream”. Selected by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ananda and her troupe perfor med at the Corfu festival in Greece and in Damascus, Hama and Alleppo in Syria, before finishing in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Petrozovadsk in Russia.

“Every city, let alone country, was very different, with a different response to dance,” says Ananda. “We were literally performing across boundaries of culture, language, religion and geography. I felt so special to represent India on such diverse platforms.”

Ananda’s performances included Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and her contemporary work Panchatantra. “I made sure that I introduced the item completely beforehand, so the audience was able to connect to the dance,” she explains. “The only differences were in how we packaged them to the audience. There were minor improvisations wherever necessary.”

She says that every centre had a different vibe. In Corfu her performance came in the midst of Western music and brass band productions and had to be tailor-made to the setting, while in Syria, the exclusively Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi recitals were appreciated. Edinburgh was a hodgepodge of frantic activity and movement, so “carrying the audience with you even with so much going on was very fulfilling”, as Ananda says. Russia was particularly special, being culturally alive, and the performances were met with standing ovations and numerous curtain calls.

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