The third edition of ‘The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2022’, scheduled from November 25-27, marks the return of this highly anticipated festival with captivating evening dance productions and much more. It is organized by The Natya Ballet Centre, founded in 1960 by Kamla Lal in New Delhi, which continues to support and promote both established and emerging talent, building its own repertoire of new performances, both contemporary and classical.
Celebrating India’s 75th year of independence by showcasing its vast and diverse culture and traditions, the megafestival of dance offers its viewers a three-day festival of performing arts at two venues in the arts center of Mandi House.
From puppets and puppeteers to timeless epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, told through dance, and conversations with the legends, the festival has something for everyone. Some of the participating artists and experts are Parshwanath S Upadhye, Arshiya Sethi, Vikram Iyengar, Sandhya Raman, Dr. Navina Jafa, dr. Anita Ratnam, Prof. dr. Rita Gangully, Sharon Lowen, Dr. Shovana Narayan, Manjari Sinha, Dadi D Pudumjee, Navtej Johar and Ajay Bhatt.
As part of the festival, three evening performances at the Kamani Auditorium – ‘Unmasked’ and ‘Abha’ in Bharatanatyam and ‘Draupadi’ in Odissi – will retell the ancient epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but each with a twist in the story.
‘Unmasked’ is a dramedy, a delightful blend of Bharatanatyam, Contemporary Dance and English Theatre, cleverly constructed and superbly choreographed by Jyotsna Shourie. It takes us on a journey to Lanka through the eyes of central characters in the Ramayana as it explores the character of Ravana through the eyes of his beautiful wife Mandodari.
In contrast, ‘Abha’ – choreographed by Parshwanath S. Upadhye and performed in the traditional Bharatanatyam format – is a stunning retelling of the Ramayana through the eyes of Sita, with an unconventional performance – combined with live musicians creating exciting music interspersed with verses in Mishra Awadhi, Kannada, Sanskrit and Marathi, with English narration.
Draupadi is a production of Natya Ballet Centre, choreographed by Guru Aniruddha Das and Nibedita Mohapatra. The show explores the status of modern women against the backdrop of Draupadi’s life. This show was performed at the Khajuraho Dance Festival, the prestigious Cervantino Festival in Mexico and at the European Parliament.
In an effort to reach young, school-going audiences of the NDMC school and others, the festival’s outreach program curates and presents, to showcase to them India’s rich palette of classical and folk dances that have both style and power. contain glorious costumes, uplifting music and historical tidbits.
“Through our special dance curation, Dances of India, we try to teach the children something new and give them a sense of India’s amazingly diverse and spectacular cultural landscape. Dance is an ancient and integral part of Indian culture, be it to the classical forms of Odissi from the east, Bharatanatyam from the south, Kathak from the north and the hundreds of beautiful folk dances from every region of this vibrant land.
In 2020, this festival was to be part of Natya Ballet Centre’s milestone 60th anniversary celebration, which was shelved due to the pandemic. We are therefore thrilled to present the third edition of this grand dance festival, with three stunning evening performances rooted in the ancient epics to three detailed reading demonstrations, a more serious panel discussion on how to reboot the dance and excellent conversations with living legends of dance and the outreach program that is so close to our hearts,” said Radhika Hoon, President of the Natya Ballet Centre.
The first of the demonstration lecture series will invite attendees into the ever-fascinating world of puppetry featuring exceptional award-winning puppeteers from across Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, each unique in their size, style, music and delivery. This session will be moderated by renowned puppeteer Dadi D. Pudumjee and filmmaker Shankhajeet De.
The second lecture demonstration includes the study and dissection of ‘abhinaya’ by the eminent dancer Navtej Singh Johar. Added to the mix is the screening of dance films and a demonstration by two talented multi-disciplinary artists of Sumedha Bhattacharyya and Gia S. Arora, who invite their audiences to an immersive, experiential engagement of capturing dance on camera.
In a panel discussion, Tabula Rasa, the organizers and viewers engage in a compelling discourse with powerful voices from dance, media and academia, about rebooting the dance space after the pandemic and looking for solutions. Moderated by renowned art entrepreneur Dr. Anita Ratnam, this session will feature panelists Dr. Navina Jafa, Fulbright Scholar and performer, Suanshu Khurana, music critic and Vikram Iyengar, dancer, filmmaker and researcher. The session is curated by Sandhya Raman, Secretary Rasaja Foundation.
Finally, enriching conversations with three eminent and dynamic Indian female classical dancers – Prof. Rita Ganguly, Sharon Lowen and Dr. Shovana Narayan – who, after a lifetime of dedication to their craft, continue their individual journeys as artists and icons. All lectures and demonstrations of lectures take place at the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
The festival is supported by Sangeet Natak Akademi and sponsored by Sotheby’s India and Rasaja Foundation.
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