Step Up

The experience of dance is not complete without the knowledge of the art and technique it embodies.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Published: August 29, 2012 2:24:22 am

The experience of dance is not complete without the knowledge of the art and technique it embodies. Nrityagram,a gurukul for Indian classical dances,has over the years developed a tradition to share the details of the art form they practise. Currently,it is holding a first-of-its-kind event at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) to give Mumbai a taste of this.

“Teaching and holding workshops alongside performances makes it a complete experience. Usually such events happen as part of educational outreach and cross-cultural programmes when we travel abroad,” says Bijayani Satpathy,director of Odissi Gurukul,Nrityagram. These events serve as personal points of contact for the artistes,while the audience gets to understand the art better. “Getting to know the audience feedback helps us understand our dance better,” she says.

Nrityagram,a residential dance institution 45 km from Bengaluru,was set up in 1990 by Protima Gauri. Known as the modern Gurukul for Indian classical dances,it developed an interactive format 15 years ago. Since then,its artistes have held lecture-demonstrations at various places,from old-age homes to play schools.

At NCPA,Surupa Sen,Artistic Director of Nrityagram,and Satpathy — the faces of this dance residency as well as its leading dancers — started their Mumbai programme with Samyoga,an Odissi duet,on Saturday. However,till September 2,its schedule is marked with events that are more educative in nature. Master classes that started on Monday will continue till Wednesday,followed by a workshop for children and a panel discussion on Thursday. On Saturday,a dance workshop will give an introduction to Kandyan dance of Sri Lanka.

Nrityagram will also celebrate another important aspect of dance — collaboration. On Sunday,Samhära: The Braid will see Odissi and Kandyan dance by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble and the Chitrasena Dance Company of Sri Lanka. Samhära,which in Sanskrit means collection,practice,compilation and drawing together,merges the two traditions. Even though the creative process involved months of working together and finding meeting points,Sen is happy with the result. “We want to collaborate more often with dance groups of Asia,” she says.

The performance commences with ‘arpanam’,a prayer to invoke Goddess Parvati . This will be followed by Invoking Shiva,attributed to Ravana,Sri Lanka’s great warrior king. Samhära concludes with alap,in which the Kandyan and Odissi traditions meet,to challenge,combine and embrace each other. This premiered in the US in March and has already bagged the New York Dance and Performance Awards (known as the Bessie Awards).

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