Understanding how costumes made with gold foil, coloured stones, beads and wood, and layers of make-up can transform a dancer in Kathakali might enhance your appreciation of the classical dance form. That is the aim of the Nepathya exhibition curated by classical dancers Mandakini Trivedi and Kalamandalam Piyal Bhattacharya, as part of the Nakshatra Dance Festival, from 19-26 September in Mumbai.

This is the first time that an exhibition is being held as part of the festival. At Nepathya, which also opens on 19 September, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the costuming traditions of performing arts of Kerala. It will feature vintage Kathakali and Mohiniattam costumes and clay pots depicting the elaborate make-up dancers wear.

The sixth edition of the festival will also bring together senior classical dance choreographers, purists, as well as those interested in bringing in novel facets into the traditional forms.

Odissi danseuse Sharmila Biswas and the OVM ensemble will open the festival with Chaturvidh—The Music Of Life To Arouse, Nurture And Soothe. On 20 September, 79-year-old-Bharatanatyam maestro C.V. Chandrasekhar and troupe will give a performance.

The final day will feature two performances—Samidha by Odissi dancer Daksha Mashruwala and students of her institute, Kaishiki, and Trayyanta, a Bharatanatyam performance by Vaibhav Arekar and his group. Themes in the performances include the infallibility of nature, the wrath of a woman, nationalism, and the desire to rise above the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life.

Nakshatra is not only for the practitioners of the various forms. There’s something for both the serious scholar and the novice, says Dasgupta. “We always try to add an extra special element to the festival each year to make it appealing to a variety of audiences."

In addition to the performances and exhibition, Chandrashekhar will conduct a two-day workshop on the nuances of Bharatanatyam from 20-21 September.

The Nakshatra Dance Festival is on from 19-26 September at the Experimental Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai (22824567). Timings vary. The Nepathya exhibition will be on from 19-21 September, 5pm onwards, at the foyer, Experimental Theatre. Workshop fee, 1,000 (for two days). For the full schedule and tickets, visit www.ncpamumbai.com

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