Seher, a non-government organisation known for pioneering the art of open public cultural events, is presenting a five-day classical dance extravaganza at the historic Purana Qila here from Saturday.

Now in its 10th year, “Ananya Dance Festival-2011” is being organised by Seher in association with the Department of Art, Culture, Languages of the Delhi Government and the Sahitya Kala Parishad. According to Ananya Dance Festival Director Sanjeev Bhargava, the annual festival is an attempt to popularise the Indian classical arts among the youth.

“In this age of television boom, our culture needs to be re-packaged innovatively and preserved for future generations. Ananya is one such attempt to showcase the Indian classical dance forms in their purest form. We want the traditional arts to reach out to more and more people of all ages and strata of society. The festival's growing popularity among all sections of Delhi's audience is a true testimony that our classical arts have what it takes to weather all storms.”

Festival schedule

Day one of the festival begins with an Odissi recital by Aruna Mohanty, a senior disciple of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, and an established dancer from Orissa. Devotion, perseverance and commitment makes her among the finest Odissi dancers of her generation.

The festival's second day will feature Kuchipudi recital by Vyjayanthi Kashi, one of the top-ranking exponents of this dance form. Vyjayanthi's concept of choreography is highly theatrical that is stimulating and experimental.

Accomplished choreographer Vaswati Misra will present Kathak on October 3. “Dance is my language, friend, identity, reflection, strength, medium and my consciousness. Kathak's improvisational character draws me. Every moment of the dance has its own innate beauty and enjoyment,” says Vaswati Misra.

On October 4, Priya Venkataraman, a well known Bharatanatyam dancer among the younger generation, will perform with her group.

The festival will conclude on October 5 with danseuse Parwati Dutta presenting “Sannidhi”, a combination of classical dance style that includes seven classical dance forms -- Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Kathakali.

“Obeisance to the sacred waters is a quintessential element of Indian culture. In this production, the seven sacred rivers – the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Kaveri, Narmada and Sindhu symbolically represent the seven Indian classical dance forms. A tradition is often metaphorically correlated with a river that flows with time and nourishes mankind. Similarly, our dance heritage that had originated thousands of years ago has evolved over the centuries and is intrinsic to our cultural consciousness,” says danseuse Parwati Dutta.

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