A weaving movement: The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2022 

This festival is an opportunity for citizens to witness an amalgamation of live performances, puppetry sessions, and lectures by veterans in the field of performing arts    

Published: 26th November 2022 08:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2022 11:05 AM   |  A+A-

An Odissi performance from ‘Dances of India’; (below) an image from ‘Unmasked’.

An Odissi performance from ‘Dances of India’; (below) an image from ‘Unmasked’.

Express News Service

For any artist, no other space remains as sacred as the stage: It is here that they get the opportunity to live, breathe, and hone their craft. In an attempt to give both creatives and culture enthusiasts the chance to encounter and resonate with contemporary, classical, and folk dance practices as well as a slew of other performing arts, Natya Ballet Centre is back with its third edition of the Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2022—the three-day event commenced on Friday. The city-based Centre, which was established by Kamala Lal in 1960, aims to promote and endorse both well-known and emerging talent, and to build a repertory of performances. 

Back with a bang 
Apart from bringing the Festival to a live audience for the first time post COVID, this event is also significant as it is curated keeping in mind the 75th year of Indian independence. Speaking to us on day one, Radhika Hoon—she is the chairperson of the Centre as well as the founder’s granddaughter—shared, “This time it was about the 75th year of Indian independence and also the Centre’s 62nd year. We decided to curate in line with that and celebrate all things to do with India’s cultural ethos.” 

A cultural celebration 
An important aspect of the Festival is the outreach programme for children conducted by the Centre. On Friday, 250 students and teachers from NDMC turned up at Sangeet Natak Akademi to get a better idea of the ‘Dances of India’—Kalbelia, Dandiya, Bhangra, etc.,— by means of 10 performances. “We feel generations are now being brought up solely on Bollywood music, which also has its roots in Indian traditional dance. So, we made this show fun, vibrant, and lively; and it was a big hit,” Hoon mentioned.

Grand dance productions, of course, remain the central focus of this event. Conforming to the theme of Indian epics, the Centre has curated a line-up of evening performances—Unmasked, Abha, and Draupadi, choreographed by Jyotsna Shourie; Parshwanath Upadhye; and Aniruddha Das and Nibedita Mohapatra respectively—that explore dance adaptations of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Elaborating on the same, Hoon shared, “The three evening performances are based on the epics, because they [the epics] are timeless. In fact, they continue to be told and retold, and while the context may change slightly, its basis never changes. That is what we are celebrating.”

Speaking to us about Unmasked, Bharatanatyam exponent Shourie shared, “As performers, we constantly search for innovative ideas that widen the frontiers of our classical dance while ensuring that the authenticity of art remains intact. While conceiving the storyline, our research guided us to the different versions of the Ramayana that existed... and as the narrative matured, we realised that to add to the debate of an already world-renowned epic, we needed our performance to be novel. This melange of dance, theatre, fiction, and mythology tells the story of Ramayana from the Lankan point of view [it explores the story of Ravana through the eyes of his wife Mandodari].” 

Dance and beyond  
This time, the event is conceived to shed light on puppetry too. “India is exceptional because we have puppetry traditions from all corners of the country, each one distinct from the other. We thought it would be wonderful to invite puppeteers from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Rajasthan to do a lecture demonstration.” The Festival line-up also includes lecture demonstrations by Bharatanatyam dancer Navtej Johar, a discourse on dance titled ‘Tabula Rasa’, conversations with Odissi exponent Sharon Lowen and acclaimed Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan, and more. “Abha [happening today] also has live musicians on stage from Carnatic music, Hindustani classical, etc. So the entire idea of this Festival is to celebrate all things Indian,” concluded Hoon. With such an exceptional array of performances and conversations on dance and other performing arts, this Festival appears to overshadow most other events in this space.

WHAT:  Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2022
WHEN:  Till November27; 10:00am onwards
WHERE:  Morning shows at Sangeet Natak Akademi, Firozeshah Road; Evening shows at Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp