Judging by shows coming up, World Dance Day is now a week or more
At a time when debates on the use, misuse and abuse of the body as a commodity rage across the world, the art of dance is an undeniably important component of culture in helping to promote harmony at many levels. India is rich in dance arts and while the renaissance of the classical forms during the pre- and post-independence period is a celebrated chapter of history, it is not easy to say how much an understanding and acceptance of dance as a secure career has seeped into society. India is a big country and even a minority commands big numbers so there is no doubt that dance has become a popular pastime. World Dance Day, supported by the International Dance Council of UNESCO, began in 1982. Over approximately a decade, the day has become increasingly popular as a medium to reiterate the relationship between dancers and their art and between dancers and their public.
Bharatanatyam dancer Geeta Chandran has been celebrating the day since 2005 with both performances and relevant discussions. This Saturday, the events begin at 3.30 at the India International Centre Main Auditorium with an open-house seminar on a topic that occupies many: “What Is Classical Anymore?” The keynote address will be delivered by eminent scholar Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan. Senior gurus like Singhajeet Singh, Jamuna Krishnan, Shovana Narayan and Ranjana Gauhar will be present, joined by a panel of young dancers.
The same evening, the Natya Vriksha Young Dancers’ Fest opens, featuring Koodiyattam by Kalamandalam Sangeeth and Kathak by Swati Sinha. On day 2, April 28, 6.30 p.m., young Aditi Balasubramanian presents Bharatanatyam, followed by Sattriya by Anwesa Mahanta. All events are open to the public. Entry is free.
Meanwhile, Kalashram celebrates the day at the Azad Bhawan auditorium of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, at IP Estate with another open event starting from the afternoon of April 28. At 2 p.m. there will be a quiz on “Dance for body and mind”. This will be followed at 4 p.m. by a discussion on “Dance — a celebration of life”. After tea come the evening presentations by classical, folk, contemporary and popular dance groups starting at 6.
And at the India Habitat Centre, there is a whole week of celebrations presented by Spandan, conceived and executed by R. Sreenivasan, a motivational speaker and photographer.
A large format photo exhibition comprising 16 compilations of different world dance forms from his collection has been put up in the open spaces of IHC. The week ends with an evening of world dance on May 3. Celebrated performing arts photographer Avinash Pasricha will speak about his career in the field with dance critic and author Leela Venkataraman, dancer Geeta Chandran and curator Alka Pande. There will also be performances by five dancers from different countries: eight dance forms.
Another organisation engaged in celebrating the event over the past few years is Kaladarppanam, a Rohini-based centre for Bhartanatyam founded by Sunita Menon. Evading the calendar rush, Kaladarppanam’s World Dance Day will be observed on Sunday, May 5 at 6.30 p.m. at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House.
As for Spic Macay, the body that has been trying to enthuse youngsters about Indian classical and other traditional art forms for several decades through programmes in schools and colleges, it too has decided to mark the international day dedicated to the art. But with its volume of events, Spic Macay’s schedule started on April 8. With various eminent dancers performing at schools across the NCR, those performing on April 29 include veteran Uma Sharma at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Shovana Narayan at Tagore International, Rama Vaidyanathan (Vasant Valley). Odissi veteran Kiran Segal visits DPS Vasundhara on April 30, while young exponent Arushi Mudgal goes to Uttam School for Girls, Ghaziabad, on May 7 and Mahua Shankar introduces students of ITL Public School, Dwarka, on May 8.
Every serious dancer would agree dance is as much about the body as the mind, because that is what communication is all about. With the innumerable dance forms the world possesses, that means a lot of potential understanding. Now it just needs to fit into the mind space of those who martial priorities in a world that seems constantly engaged in turning a deaf ear to others’ interests.