Held on the premises of Delhi’s Purana Qila, the Ananya Dance Festival is not short on historical ambience. The crumbling fort provides an apt backdrop to the five-day dance festival that aims to promote India’s cultural legacy. “Our heritage and culture need to be preserved and marketed smartly amongst the youth,” says Sanjeev Bhargava, director of the festival, who conceptualized the event for Seher, a Delhi-based organization that puts together cultural festivals in the city. “Ananya is one such attempt of ours to showcase Indian classical dance in its pure form, but packaged sleekly for the younger generation and first-time enthusiasts of Indian culture.”
Now in its seventh year, the festival has gained impressive traction, drawing a mix of foreign diplomats and tourists among its daily audience of 3,000. “The performances are exactly 1 hour long, they don’t stretch endlessly, and the artistes are all very talented,” Bhargava says.
By keeping the performances short, the festival has been able to attract audiences, who find themselves more receptive to these classical recitals instead of the 2-3 hour-long programmes which are the norm. The more diverse repertoire with “artists who are not celebrities in the field, but definitely very talented” has also helped draw younger generations over the years, according to Bhargava.
Legacy: Ananya’s format makes it attractive to the young.
This year’s highlights include Masquerade—Man in the Iron Mask, a performance by Leela Samson’s Chennai-based dance school Kalakshetra, which is based on Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers; a Mohiniyattam and Kathakali performance by Jayaprabha Menon, a disciple of Mohiniyattam doyen Bharati Shivaji, and her group; and Samanvaya, a Kathak performance by the renowned Malti Shyam and her troupe. For those with more traditional tastes, Kalakshetra’s presentation will include Yathi, a bhakti song that narrates Lord Shiva’s ananda tandava (dance of bliss), the Kalinga (cobra king) chapter from Lord Krishna’s life, and the traditional three tillanas (concluding sections) as the grand finale.
“I’ve planned my performance in such a way that one can get a glimpse of different styles of Kathak, as well as the traditional music style of Dhrupad,” Shyam says.
In addition to the evening performances, there will also be an interactive seminar, Pratibimb, on traditional classical dances on 13 and 14 October. “The discussion will try and create a bridge between the performer and the rasikas (art lovers),” says Bhargava.
The Ananya Dance Festival will run from 11-15 October at Purana Qila, New Delhi. Visit www.sehernow.in for more information.