Larik dancers from Indonesia swayed with kathak dancers from India, dudang dudang dancers from Brunei joined rhythm with India's famed kuchipudi artists while the Myanmarese did a cultural synthesis with Laotians. Various song and dance traditions representing 10 ASEAN countries fused in a rich cultural medley to celebrate the common cultural space and civilisation they have shared for over two millennia.
The occasion was the ASEAN-India Special Commemorative Summit to celebrate 20 years of their relationship and present at the magnificent Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan, India's presidential palace whose red and cream sandstone glowed in soft blue hues Thursday night, were heads of state and government of each of 10 of these countries.
"The cultural collaboration aimed to bring out the similarities of the common origin shared by Indian performing arts with the existing traditions in the Southeast Asian nations," said Suresh K. Goel, director general of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) that mounted the hour-long show.
The idea was to bring out the similarities and the common origin shared by Indian performing arts with the traditions in the Southeast Asian nations, represented by the ASEAN grouping.
There were in all 10 groups from each of these groups and 10 groups of dancers and musicians from various parts of India - from Shyopat Julia's mesmerising performance with the bagpipe, known as the mashak in Rajasthan, and the deft, foot-tapping bamboo dancers of Mizoram to the haunting voice of Sufi singer Renee Singh and the Ramayana dance drama of Thailand. There was also the tinkling dance of Phillipines and the grasshopper dance of Cambodia.
And the grand finale at the end, where all 20 troupes, from across the geographies of this vast Indo-ASEAN region, danced on stage to a common rhythm brought the elite audience to its feet. In the audience were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his cabinet colleagues, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and presidents, prime ministers, a vice president and a sultan from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Phillipines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
"Given our cultural affinity, an example of which we witnessed here, physical proximity and shared priorities, the ASEAN-India relationship is showing increasing evidence of becoming more comprehensive and strategic in nature," said India's President Pranab Mukherjee at the grand banquet he gave later for the guests.
"A closer integration between ASEAN and India will be to the mutual benefit of the nations that we represent this historic evening," he said.