All you wanted to know about classical dance

On stage: (from left to right) Rina Mehta, Seibi Lee and Seema Mehta  

Indian classical dance has a reputation of being inaccessible – or worse, that it’s meant for the older audience. When Tripti Arya was pursuing her passion for Indian classical dance by learning Kuchipudi under the guidance of Guru Srirama Chandramurthy, she encountered people, both young and old, who would tell her that classical dance forms “are complicated to understand”. Concerned with the lack of understanding, Arya who is founder of Arya Foundation Group, set out to dispel the myths around dance forms. The result: the two-day Bhramara Festival of Dance is geared towards generating curiosity among the youth towards Indian classical dance.

The festival’s aim is simple: to bring together renowned practitioners of Kathakali, Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi and Mayurbhanj Chau on one stage. “We are hoping to attract an audience of all kinds in a way where it is very easily acceptable and understood,” says Arya. The festival features performances by dance practitioners from across India and abroad who will perform to the theme ‘Enchanting Epics’.

Using Kathak as a medium to trace Hanuman’s heroics in Ramayana, Seibi Lee and the Leela Dance collective’s Son of the Wind will perform in India for the first time at the festival. To make the performances accessible, every show will be preceded by an animated video explaining the dance form, mudras and postures. With diminishing attention spans, performances have been kept under 30 minutes. It was a challenge convincing the artists. Arya informs that Sadanam Balakrishnan, who will perform Radha Madhavan, as part of Krishna Raasleela, takes four hours to put on his make-up for a 30 minute show. “He is a very humble and amazing person to talk to,” shares Arya.

The festival’s diversity is reflective in its line-up. Seibi Lee, part of the Leela Dance Collective, which includes artists from the US, Canada and Japan, is of Chinese and Japanese descent. Lee was inspired to learn Kathak when she saw a dance performance by a student of Pandit Chitresh Das at the University of Toronto while studying music there. Lee, who was attracted to the “footwork and chakkars with the exquisitely graceful gestures and delicate movement of the wrists and eyebrows,” has also performed as Manthara, Vishwamitra, Marich and Hanuman in various productions. Her solo work, Houvi and Chang’e is based on a Chinese myth told in traditional Kathak style. Lee finds that the Indian audiences is often intrigued to see a story from another culture in their own art form.

Bhramara Festival of Dance will take place today and tomorrow, January 19 and 20 at The Royal Opera House, Girgaum. Check for details.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 2:54:12 AM |

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