Dance: A Combination of Various Art Forms

by November 30, 2018 0 comments

Radhika Hoon

On the sideline of Natya Ballet Dance Festival, Chairman of Natya Ballet Centre, Radhika Hoon tells how dance is a combination of art forms such as films and theatre.

Can art connect its practitioner to the global world? When you ask Radhika Hoon, founder of the Natya Ballet Dance Festival, she would agree. She believes that art has the power to leave us speechless, touch us to the core, impacting our very conscience, be it through a song, dance performance, a painting or a novel, a play, a poem or a film. “It does encourage you to move ahead in the field,” says Radhika.

As the festival’s second edition commences today, Radhika explains how the festival was first conceptualised. She says, “It emerged out of a random discussion when we were talking about a cultural exchange programme and a fest that caters to a mass audience showcasing a variety of dances and acts. The fest digs up dying dance forms and tries to highlight their lost importance.”

Well, how does Natya and Ballet go together? Radhika answers that Natya, as Kalidasa defined is a blend of dance, music and theatre, “which has just got defined within contours over time.” When the Natya Ballet Centre was founded in 1960 by Kamala Lal, the dancer used to practice ballets of two and a half-hour performances. Her acts retold tales of several epics and playwrights making it a place for all kinds of art, “which is how the festival’s concept came into existence.”

The fest will present a cultural dialogue between legendary dancers and traditional speakers, inspiring the audience to follow the language of art as much as they can to not let it die. She tells us that the festival aims to explore ‘dance in film’ and ‘dance in theatre,’ combining the two elements together.

There will be masterclasses by USA choreographer Ananya Chatterjea, which will be an intensive session of contemporary dance technique, Orchha, bringing together movement principles from Odissi, vinyasa yoga, and Mayurbhanj Chhau. A tete-a-tete between Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj and musicologist Manjari Sinha will be followed by a session of ‘Meet the Legends,’ where the audience will be in conversation with dancer Mallika Sarabhai, social activist Dr Arshiya Sethi, and Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson.

The festival, through its various dance and theatrical collaborations, presents two different versions and retelling of the epic Mahabharata as well Ramayana.

Kat-Katha puppetry trust’s Mahabharata will be a retelling, this time not just through the perspective of Lord Krishna, Karna, Arjuna, but in way that “forces each one of them to question and revisit their decisions in the great battle.” She adds, “It will explore the inner dilemma of the fifteen prominent characters of the epic tale, through a stream of conscious narrative of their past and present motives.” It employs the Japanese technique of Bunraku, masks and shadow theatre with elements of Chhau and Kalaripayattu.

Similarly, Ramayana presented as Aham Sita, will narrate tales from the holy epic through the eyes of the five women — Sita, Urmila, Mandodari, Surpanakha and Ahalya. This edition’s one of the new highlights, as Radhika tells us, is that it keeps women in the forefront, emphasising on the female power in dance and theatre. With a blend of dance and music and theatre, retelling of the two epics challenges the conventional storytelling at the festival. “It indeed enhances the storytelling forms and inspires people to explore various art forms and develop them as their forte.”

Radhika believes that dance is not just an art form, rather “an expression, an emotion and a language. There will be a number of films shown that will showcase dance in films and how the art form has evolved over the years focussing its prominence in films throughout.” This will be followed by sessions with award-winning filmmakers like Saba Dewan, Justin McCarthy, Sharada Ramanathan and Vikram Iyengar.

There will be panel discussions between Jyotsna Shourie and Gowri Ramnarayan, moderated by writer and storyteller Soumya Baijal. The most attractive elements, as Radhika mentions, will be the two international performances:  The Dutch Double Bill —  We are waiting at the border and Ayush. While the former is a confrontational and intimate public space performance by the Dutch dance company Vloeistof, the latter is an amalgamation of Western dramaturgy and Kathak choreography by the Korzo Theatre from The Hague in Netherlands.

Writer:  Chahak Mittal

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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