Unity in diversity is a concept perhaps celebrated most in school textbooks and theatre presentations in the country. And arguably, the mother of all stage performances extolling the diverse art forms of India, Aikya Bhaaratam by Bharata Kalanjali, will be performed again in the city over the weekend.
Bharata Kalanjali, the dance school founded by dancer duo VP Dhananjayan and wife Shanta Dhananjayan, will present its flagship performance, Aikya Bhaaratam, on June 17. With a pan Indian appeal, the piece is a chain of several dance forms – both classical and folk — from across the country, or Kashmir to Kanyakumari, as the theme is usually referred to. “It is one of the earliest productions of our organisation, and has clocked 3,000 performances,” recalls Dhananjayan, who will perform Bharatanatyam and Kathakali portions at the show this week. His Kathakali piece is themed on the story of a pregnant deer.
The two hour programme will include bhangra, Gujarati folk dances garba and dandiya raas, Bengal’s harvest dance santhal, a stick dance from Karnataka by men called kunittatta, the kurathi and kummi styles from Tamil Nadu and two Bharatanatyam pieces, Shivanatanam and Nrittaangaram. The unity-based Bharatha Samudhaayam Vaazhga Ve song by Tamil poet Bharathiyar will also be used.
The much-feted show was staged for the first time by the dancer duo and their students for the inauguration of the then Malaysian Singapore Airlines in 1970. “Though it has been performed on stage several times over 30 years, we have not done it in Chennai for over two years now,” explains the dance expert. His wife will direct the programme.
On Sunday, Aikya Bhaaratam will be presented to commemorate the centenary year of SGS Sabha (Samyukta Gowda Saraswata Sabha), also known as the Karnataka Sangha, in T Nagar. Entry is free for all. Dhananjayan, an accomplished dancer who has his roots in Kerala, will perform this show to celebrate 100 years of the Karnataka Sangha in Chennai. How is that for unity in diversity?