April 29 is UN designated International Day for Dance. Why it chose a lesser-known French ballet master Jean John Nouverre shows euro-centricism of these agencies, as if rest of the world and its dance cultures don’t matter! India has biggest dance culture: nine main forms, over 100 folk , tribal, ritual forms, add modern, contemporary and films. At least 50 million people know of dance as an art form in India through films and TV alone and in Europe? or USA? Maybe few thousands or to be generous to them, one hundred thousand. Give them five hundred thousand more, still it does not add up to even half a million. Why an Indian pioneer dancer known worldwide like Ram Gopal, Uday Shankar, Rukmini Devi, Bala or even younger ones now like Birju Maharaj or Sonal Mansingh (whose birthday falls on 30th April) was not chosen for this day shows Western cultural imperialism and mindset.
In India, we dance to our own tune! Dancers celebrate in their own way. Some mount their shows, some present students, some project their institutions, others join hands and feet to participate in anyone who organises. There are many now riding the band wagon but the grandest of all is almost totally of the dancers, by the dancers for the dancers.
Bangalore hosts the biggest single largest-day gathering on this day for the last 10 years, minus two lost in Covid times. Alliance Francaise with culture authority Ashish Khokar used to host day-long celebrations starting at 10am and finishing at 10pm. This platform got created thanks to patronage of Chiranjiv Singh , Karnataka’s culture finance and additional chief secretary plus Ambassador to UNESCO.
On eve of International Dance Day, this year too the biggest event features at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on April 28, at 6pm. Yakshagana being the pride of Karnataka will start the proceedings, followed by popular forms like Odishi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and modern. The 22nd edition of India’s only yearbook on dance called attenDance will be launched too and the unique yearbook is guest edited by Ranee Kumar of Hyderabad. Dance magazines or publications have high mortality rate but this one has survived even Covid times! First launch took place at Raj Bhawan in 2004 and mother figure of Kathak in South guru Maya Rao was present with Chiranjiv Singh and Akumal Ramachander (pic below).
Young photographers who take photos on dance as hobby will be platformed and this time one Suresh VB gets the honour to display his works. Inaugurated by Chiranjiv Singh, the patron-saint of Bangalore art scene, the grand event has almost all of Bengaluru’s top names in attendance like Vani Ganapathy, Padmini Ravi, Lakshmi Gopalswany, Rukmini Vijayakumar, Praveen Kumar and younger ones dancing like Madhulita Mahapatra, Tushar Pooja Bhatt, Gururaj, Nair sisters, Aishwarya Nityanand and Malavika Nair with Varshini Hebbar.
Odissi dancer Anjali Urs will conduct and many dancers of city like Sampada Pillai, Nandini Mehta, Debjani Sen and Prashant Sastry as participants in seminar on DANCE MATTERS. This is an important component where dance leaders discuss with each other concerns of the field. And how also dance matters. So, matters of dance and how dance matters in society, for health and growth. To get over 100 dancers to be present and participate in one evening is herculean. Khokar brings them all together.
Director of BVB HN Suresh will welcome all and the whole 6 to 9 pm is full of anyone who is anyone connected to dance. Truly, Bengaluru shows how it dances!