The 21st India Theatre Olympiad got off to a colourful start here on Friday night with scintillating performances of classical, sub-classical, folk and modern dances performed by artistes from Maharashtra and Assam along with local performers.

Earlier in the day Mysore-based Nrithya Mayuri Natya Visharade’s Vidushi A S Lalitha and Vidushi A S Kanhana inaugurated the mega theatre festival in the presence of several eminent artistes of the State to rousing applauds.

Organised by the city-based Utkala Yuva Sanskrutik Sangha, the mega event, which includes International Drama Festival, would continue till October 5 at Kala Vikash Kendra here.

Unique festival

The Sangha has been holding this unique festival nonstop for last 20 years at this time of the year and it is said to be the only such festival across the world to have been organised continuously for such a long time.

Speaking on the occasion, speakers from the State and outside praised the Sangha secretary Kartik Chandra Rath, who has been single-handedly carrying the torch of the festival untiringly for all these years.

Rath, an eminent playwright himself, said the festival this year has been designed to promote “women empowerment” and is dedicated to former president of the Sangha Late Justice D M Patnaik. “Most of the dramas to be staged this year on the occasion have the moral theme to boost the women empowerment”, Rath said.

More than 150 troupes from the State and outside, including foreign performers would stage at least 75 shows of dance, music and drama during the fortnight-long festival that would also have competitions of dance and music in classical, folk and modern versions.

On the inaugural evening, a music troupe of local Royal Trinity Institute mesmerised the audience with their scintillating performances on instrumentations.

Junior troupes

It was, however, left to the junior troupes from Pune in Maharashtra—Natraj Nathya Vidyalaya to steal the limelight of the evening by their flawless performances in semi-classical and modern dance.

Modern dance

But the Jhankar Production troupe from Moran in Assam also did not lag behind and adding more colour to the lively evening captivated the audience with Bihu and modern dance performance.

The festival this year has been designed to promote ‘women empowerment’