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Violence against women has been making headlines over the last year. Simran Jat, 15, and her dance group from Ryan International School, Mumbai, will try to raise awareness about this through a dance performance at the 13th edition of the International Children’s Festival of Performing Arts (ICFPA) in New Delhi. “It’s a 15-minute contemporary dance performance where we have shown a woman as a kite troubled by another evil kite, and yet she fights and continues to fly," says Jat.

This is one of the 150 performances from schools all across India at the four-day annual festival that started on Thursday and is being held at different venues in the Capital. Organized by Ryan Foundation in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and National Bal Bhavan, the theme of this year’s festival is “Brighter Tomorrow".

“The festival gives a platform to children to interact and learn about different cultures and histories through performing arts like dance, street theatre and songs and in the process they get sensitized towards many issues of the society," says Grace Pinto, managing director of the Ryan Group.

Apart from Indian street theatre, drama and dance, the festival features acts from 21 countries, including a circus from Germany, theatre from Iran and origami work from Egypt. “India has had many men and women who have made history and our play 4x5 deals with such actions and situations wherein a man creates such legends," says 58-year-old Daniel Lovecchio, director of the Spanish theatre group Escuela De Arte Del Teatro Tyl Tyl Arte Y Cultura Para La Infancia, which will be performing in India for the first time on Sunday.

The ICFPA started in 2000 and it has had participants who come regularly. “Because this is a learning experience for teachers as well," says Visha Desilva, teacher and choreographer of the Sri Lanka-based dance group Geetanjali, which will be performing Sri Lankan folk and traditional songs.

“Unlike today’s generation that is used to watching everything on their smartphones and computers, coming here and experiencing this conflux of different cultures and arts is a great learning experience," says Desilva.

Seconding that is Mahima Mehra, a class IX student of Spring Dale Senior School, Amritsar. “We can learn about all these art forms by just one click, but coming here and interacting with other students makes you more confident and aware. Besides, you make a lot of friends with whom you can stay in touch through Facebook," she says. Mehra will be part of the play Ab Na Rukunga (on Saturday), which urges students not to succumb to the pressures of society and take their own decisions. “This is how you will make a brighter tomorrow," she says.

International Children’s Festival of Performing Arts, 9am,is on till 8 December. There are four venues in New Delhi—National Bal Bhavan, Kotla Road; Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg; Talkatora Stadium, Connaught Place; and Little Theatre Group Auditorium, Copernicus Marg. Click here for a detailed schedule.

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