As part of the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the leaders will attend a cultural programme presented by Kalakshetra.
Students of Kalakshetra will be putting up Bharatanatyam and Kathakali performances, rehearsals for which are in full swing.
The renowned institution for performing arts has had a strong cultural association with China, through the years. Revathi Ramachandran, director of the institution, said Kalakshetra had toured China over four times in the past, and had put up performances there.
“In 1985, the founder of Kalakshetra, Rukmini Devi Arundale, spoke on “Our common heritage: China and India” and this was broadcast by the Madras Radio on China Day. In her speech, she drew parallels between how both the countries revered women,” she said.
Praising China, Ms. Arundale had also spoken about how they had a special eye for beauty, and a sense of colour which was highly developed. “She had said that they have a lot to give to the rest of the world, with regard to their sense of colours and aesthetics,” Ms. Revathi added.
A teaching experience
Bharatanatyam exponent Leela Samson recalled her association with students from China, and said that it was a different experience teaching them.
“After Indians, I think the most number of students I have taught were Chinese. They have an astounding interest and grasping power, so much so that they took the same time as any Indian student would, to learn Bharatanatyam. They work very hard and are deeply interested in our culture,” she said.
“Madam Zhang Jun and Madam Zheng Yun, two students I taught at the Sriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, were sent by their government; they could have just learnt the art as a pedestrian exercise, but they didn’t. They learnt as though their lives depended on it,” she recalled.
“Apart from them, another student, Jin Shan Shan, didn’t get a scholarship, but she made an effort to join JNU to learn Hindi, and then took a transfer, just to pursue dance under me. That’s the kind of commitment they have,” she added.