A week-long dance festival of the Music Academy was opened on Sunday with Andrew T. Simkin, the U.S. Consul General in Chennai, describing music and dance as the highest manifestations of human civilisation.

In his inaugural address, Mr. Simkin said in many ways the story of civilisation was about the effort to build and protect things that were good, in the face of practical challenges and destructive forces.

“The contemplation of artistic beauty can be a source of both pleasure and enlightenment,” he added.

Mr. Simkin, whose career took him around the world, said Chennai had deeply impressed him as a city with highly refined culture.

“Although the city is not known for self-promotion, its reputation has reached new heights, and deservedly so. Chennai’s status as a centre of arts did not happen by accident,” he further said.

While appreciating the eight decades of services of the Music Academy towards the preservation and advancement of traditional south Indian forms of culture, he acknowledged the role of many other artistic fora, forming a collective expression of high culture culminating in a season of festivals.

In his welcome address N. Murali, president, Music Academy and Managing Director, The Hindu, recalled the dance performance at the Academy of Rajalakshmi and Jeevarathinam, the daughters of Tiruvalaputhur Kalyani in 1931 to stress its historical significance.

“This was the first time that a dance recital was performed on stage in a cultural organisation,” he said, adding that it marked the beginning of the renaissance of Bharathanatyam after a protracted struggle led by E.S. Krishna Iyer and supporters of the art form.

He said the idea of a separate dance festival took shape in 2007 and the dance festival-2010 like its earlier versions would feature different dance forms of India.

Sreedhar Potarazu, CEO, VitalSpring Technologies, U.S., the main sponsor, stressed the need to have a similar dance festival in Washington.

N. Ramji, Secretary of the Academy, proposed a vote of thanks.

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