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The Wonder That Is India: Reinforcing unity through dance by Sangeet Natak Akademi

Sangeet Natak Akademi’s 10-day festival, Kaleidoscope: A Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India. at the Meghdoot Open Art Theatre, Mandi House.

Published: 30th March 2022 08:23 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th March 2022 08:23 AM   |  A+A-

Still from ‘The Wonder That Is India’

Express News Service

When you see a dance performance, it is intangible. But, in that moment, you experience the beauty of it. Moreover, seeing it live is a different experience altogether,” shares dancer-choreographer Papiha Desai from the Indian Revival Group (IRG), a dance ensemble founded by Yog Sunder Desai in 1948. 

Papiha’s troupe will be performing one of their pieces titled ‘The Wonder That Is India’ as part of Sangeet Natak Akademi’s 10-day festival, Kaleidoscope: A Festival of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India. The performance will take place at the Meghdoot Open Art Theatre, Sangeet Natak Akademi, Mandi House—an autonomous body of the Ministry of Culture—today. 

Kaleidoscope is organised to commemorate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav—a year-long celebration of 75 years of Indian Independence. This 10-day event showcases the rich cultural heritage of India through a series of literary talks, film screenings, indigenous crafts workshops, oral storytelling, and cultural performances. 

A focus on diversity
IRG’s performance—it is the culminating event of the festival—is choreographed by founder Yog Sunder Desai, Papiha, and Kathakali exponent Shashidharan Nair. The show will present 10 different Indian dance forms such as Odissi, Manipuri, Bharatanatyam, Mayurbhanj Chhau from Orissa, Gaur Maria from Chhattisgarh, Kalbeliya from Rajasthan, among others.

“When my father [Yog Sunder Desai] started the group, it was just after Independence, and there was a spirit of revival of culture. We are celebrating that love for India’s heritage with our performance,” shares Papiha, who has designed the performance. 

The show, as Papiha mentions, will be a journey through the diverse dance forms of the country, culminating in an extravagant presentation of all 10 dance forms together, to showcase cultural diversity. “India is a cultural superpower. We have so many dance and music forms, and the fact that the government is taking part in supporting and keeping alive this cultural heritage, I feel, is a great step,” she adds. 

Designing and choreographing such a large-scale show is definitely a challenging feat. However, Papiha shares that the final product is sure to enthral and mesmerise the audience. “It is always interesting to find a meeting point where dance forms converge and where they can diverge. It is about making them shine individually and finding a space where all the forms can gel together.” Talking about how the production will attempt to traverse parts of India, Papiha concludes. “It is almost like travelling through parts of the country and experiencing their cultures. Each dance will flower in its own style and then converge to become a beautiful lotus.” 



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