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Little did the 18th century French dancer and ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre know that his birth date, 29 April, would be observed worldwide as International Dance Day three centuries later. In the Capital, which will see a host of events, Bharatanatyam dancer and Padma Shri awardee Geeta Chandran and her New Delhi-based dance school Natya Vriksha celebrate it every year with a Young Dancers’ Festival.

This year is no different. A film screening, illustrated lectures and performances are being organized over the weekend at the India International Centre (IIC). On Day 1, Chandran’s daughter-disciple, Sharanya, will present a Bharatanatyam recital; this will be followed by a Kathak presentation by Lucknow’s Anuj Mishra. Day 2 will see performances by Bangaloreans Vinaya Narayanan (Mohiniattam) and Prateeksha Kashi (Kuchipudi).

Chandran says: “India is probably the place with the maximum number of dance traditions in the world. Be it the nine classical dance form styles, or the abundance of folk dances that we nurture, or even the contemporary Bollywood dance that has everyone dancing, India is the world’s largest theatre of dance. It’s a place where even the gods dance—the community raas dance of Krishna, the highly internalized solo dance of Shiva, representing the dance of the cosmos, or the dance of creation and destruction by the primeval female energy Devi, are all potent symbols of the high position that Indian culture has accorded dance."

She adds: “For over 10 years now, I have been observing World Dance Day to call attention to diverse aspects of dance. My events spotlight both the successes of dance and the limitations that artistes face in today’s world. This year we show Malavika Sarukkai’s film (The Unseen Sequence), and present lectures on lighting and costumes. And our young dancers’ fest will continue to dazzle with artistes from different parts of India showcasing their passion for classical dance. World Dance Day is a moment to say that dance is us."

Film-maker and former ad man Sumantra Ghosal’s documentary will open the festival. This rare screening of The Unseen Sequence, on eminent Bharatanatyam dancer Sarukkai, will be followed by a discussion with the film-maker and his subject. This is Ghosal’s second such documentary—he had made one on tabla maestro Zakir Hussain in 2003.

The trailer on YouTube speaks of a film that is vibrant and colourful, with snippets of archival footage, interviews of dancers like Lakshmi Viswanathan, and Sarukkai’s own take on her philosophy, peregrinations and performances (strikingly, one at Tamil Nadu’s Chidambaram Nataraja temple, to the beats of mridangam and manjira). And it’s from Sarukkai’s definition that the film gets its name: “Classical dance…in a moment suggests the infinite. It’s not just the beat of a beginning and ending, it’s part of a much longer sequence…the unseen sequence perhaps."

The “open-house seminars" organized every year tend to offer interesting insights. This year, two speakers will discuss how lighting and costume can lift a performance. Gautam Bhattacharya will talk about “Lighting Dance: Dancing Light" while Sandhya Raman will discuss “Costuming For Dance"—both talks are on Sunday. Raman and Bhattacharya have worked with acclaimed classical dancers such as Sonal Mansingh, Mallika Sarabhai, Leela Samson, Birju Maharaj and Kelucharan Mohapatra. Bhattacharya is especially known for his iconic sound and light shows at temples such as Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh) and Somnath (Gujarat); Chandragiri Fort (Andhra Pradesh); and the historical Residency complex (Lucknow).

Geeta Chandran and Natya Vriksha will present the Young Dancers’ Festival on 26-27 April, 3.30pm onwards, at CD Deshmukh Auditorium, IIC, 40, Max Mueller Marg, Lodi Estate, New Delhi (24619431).

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