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Sanskriti 2009 celebrates Indian classical dance

May 2009
Sanskriti 2009 celebrates Indian classical dance

The Atlanta-based Deeksha School of Performing Arts presented Sanskriti 2009, a celebration of classical Indian dance, on Saturday, April 11, to raise funds for Asha for Education, a United States-based student organization dedicated to the support of rural education in India.

The 130-minute event featured dancers Anupa Thakurta, Hemant Panwar and Kalyani Kar along with students of the Deeksha School, and focused on the Bharatanatyam style of dancing in its purest form collaborating with Kathak. The show also portrayed Bharatanatyam as a universal dance form that can be adapted and choreographed to various compositions—from the traditional to interface to contemporary popular music.

Anupa Thakurta conceived, choreographed and directed the dances, while the music was mastered, re-mixed and re-arranged by Dr. Raktim Sen. The show was staged at the Joe Mack Wilson Auditorium in Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia.

The first act, Nritya, presented dance compositions in pure Bharatanatyam style with a glimpse of Kathak. Students performed dances as a homage to the Guru’s tutelage. This act also presented the famous Kathak maestro Hemant Panwar performing Kathak.

A highlight of this act was a Bharatanatyam-Kathak jugalbandi (juxtaposition of two styles) performed by Thakurta and Panwar, which showcased the similarities and dissimilarities between the forms in a narrative fashion. Another highlight of the act was a Bharatanatyam composition called “Good over Evil” to tabla-influenced fusion (interface) music by the renowned tabla maestro Bikram Ghosh and Santoor maestro Rahul Sharma.

The finale of the first act was O Saya, a tribute to children all over the world. If you thought Bharatanatyam couldn’t be adapted to the modern era of music and dance, this finale proved it wrong. Thakurta, Panwar and the students of DSPA performed to the Oscar-nominated number by A.R. Rahman from Slumdog Millionaire. This composition was a tribute to Asha for Education, all the sponsors and all the contributors to the program who volunteered to help the cause of Asha.

The second act, Natya, presented Chitra: The Warrior Princess, an original choreography in Bhararatnatyam and Kathak styles adapted from Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s famous dance drama about an episode in the Indian epic Mahabharata. Tagore’s version interprets the story of Chitra as a woman’s search for identity and self-definition and a breaking out of the traditional roles into which she has been cast.

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