The dictum “Think out of the box, but stay in it" is the guiding philosophy of the National Festival of New Choreographies, to be held at the India Habitat Centre in the Capital this weekend. The three-day event serves as a platform to showcase contemporary takes on traditional Indian dance forms by established classical dancers. “We believe there have to be changes, and if there are some changes in a classical dance form, we accept them," says Bijan Mukherjee, the former director of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) who founded Impresario India, a non-profit organization that has been hosting the festival since 1999.

A Kathak recital choreographed by Monisa Nayak.

The one thing that Mukherjee is sure about is not having outrageously modern dances, which he categorizes as styles that bear almost no resemblance to the original. “(The) uninitiated will not be able to relate to modern dances as connoisseurs (of classical dance forms) will," he says.

Kuchipudi performance by Kishore Mosalikanti’s group.

Bharatnatyam dancer Jayalakshmi Eshwar will present Kala Sruthi—The Sounds of Time, which explores the journey of sound through the creation and destruction of the universe. The dance item will chart a path through the cyclic motions of time, climaxing with idea of everything dissolving into nothingness and into Shiva—the Hindu god of destruction. Traversing through the five elements (earth, wind, water, fire and space) that constitute the world, the Delhi-based dancer has used the Panchavadyam (comprising the percussion instruments timila, maddalam, ilathalam and idakka and kombu—a wind instrument) for the first time in her choreography, which will premiere at the festival. “The uniqueness of the Panchavadyam is that it is mainly heard in temples and very rarely used in dances," says Eshwar.

Taking the festival’s experimental theme forward are the students of Kuchipudi danseuse Kishore Mosalikanti, who will perform a piece titled Prayogam. Mosalikanti says it won’t be a traditional Kuchipudi recital though the “grammar of the style" has not been changed.

Also featured will be group compositions by the Odissi dancer Kiran Segal, who will pay a dance tribute to some of Rabindranath Tagore’s romantic poems; a Manipuri choreography on the theme of spring by Priti Patel; and a Kathak presentation of five ragas by Monisa Nayak.

The 11th National Festival of New Choreographies, 7pm, 27-29 March, Stein

Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. Seating on first come, first served basis.


27 March (Friday)

—Yeningtha: The Colours Of Spring (Traditional Manipuri dances)

Concpt and choreography: Priti Patel

—Raga-Chitra (Kathak)

Concept and choreography: Manisha Nayak

28 March (Saturday)

—Divya Namaskar: Salutation To Tagore (Odissi)

Concept and choreoghraphy: Kiran Segal

—Bighna Vinayak: The Will Power (Contemporary choreography through Bharatnatyam)

Concept and choreography: Kush Kushari

29 March (Sunday)

—Prayogam (Experimental Kuchipudi)

Choreography: Kishore Mosalikanti

—Kala Shruthi: The Sounds Of Time (Bharatanatyam)

Concept and choreography: Jayalakshmi Eshwar

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