The seventh edition of the annual dance festival of The Music Academy was inaugurated on Thursday.

Featuring a series of performances and lecture demonstrations, the event will continue till January 9.

Jennifer A. McIntyre, consul general of the US Consulate General in Chennai, inaugurated the festival and presented the title of Natya Kala Acharya to Sudharani Raghupathy.

Congratulating her, the consul general said Ms. Raghupathy was an incredible dancer with 65 years of experience and a role model for many.

Ms. Raghupathy said she was proud to be a representative of the monumental tradition of the Tanjore bani in the school of Bharatanatyam. The repertoire and technique of the Tanjore school trains one to learn and teach, she said. She would donate her collection of books on dance to The Music Academy, the dancer said.

Music Academy president N. Murali said the annual dance festival had become a signature event in Chennai. He said, this year, the M.N. Subramanyam Award instituted by Krithika Subramanyam would go to C.V. Chandrasekar’s dance school.

By NRIs

Dancer Sujatha Vijayaraghavan said, of the 19 solo dances at the festival this year, five were by non-resident Indians.

She said the morning performances were not ticketed.

Students of Ms. Raghupathy shared their experience learning under ‘Sudha aunty’ to The Hindu .

“She never prepared students for arangetram or other programmes. Dance is an art form and the learning process must be enjoyed by practising at home, she would say. She admitted only 25 students per group,” said Priya Murali.

Ms. McIntyre released the festival’s brochure on the occasion.

This year, for the first time, a 3-day music and dance festival is being planned at Kennedy Center, Washington, under the auspices of The Music Academy, said Sreedhar Potarazu, CEO, VitalSpring Technologies, who attended the inauguration.

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