On World Dance Day, the city of Bangalore shows the way!
Bangalore showed how to dance. It mounted the single-largest gathering on World Dance Day anywhere in India, with over a hundred dancers. It had done this for seven years before Covid times too organised by ace cultural personality, author and critic Ashish Khokar. After two years of very cautious activity and none indoors, the city came together to dance again. Over 50 dancers on stage and 50 in a full house of 200 , wearing masks as Covid precaution, showed when artistes get together they can bring in change. Of spirit and substance.
Bangalore is actually the science capital of India. Has always been. ISRO, Visvesvaraya Institute, Tata Institute of Science were the starting point in the 60s and 70s. Then came manufacturing industry of engineering goods: HMT, Kirloskar, helicopters( HAL). Then in 1990s came the computer companies. INTERNET boom. Then bio con. Now, everything is here.
Arts developed as the city expanded. New galleries, venues and halls. Chiranjiv Singh, best known cultured face of city culture, was also Karnataka’s Culture Secretary, then Finance, then Chief Secretary. In between, he was India’s Ambassador to UNESCO. So everyone respects him. When he says publicly: “Bangalore dance- scene can be divided into before Ashish Khokar settled here and after!” There’s a certain truth as was evident by all-star turnout on the eve of the International Day for Dance on April 29. Singh is king of Karnataka culture scene, so he inaugurated the grand event by lighting a traditional lamp in the elegant foyer of BVB which hosted the event and where a photo exhibition by VB Suresh was mounted. As its director the artist-scholar HN Suresh said in his welcome address: “Welcome to this event by the dancers, of the dancers, for the dancers under the able leadership of Ashish Khokar who has curated this evening…”
The three-hour event started on time, a rarity in most metros! Reva University’s Anjali Urs – herself an Odissi dancer – conducted the whole proceedings with elan.
Yakshagana being the dance form of Karnataka, it had the pride of place with Varshini Hebbar opening the proceedings, followed by Odissi by three tiny tots of Madhulita Mahapatra school Nrityantar who also presented a neat item. This was followed by a chiselled Bharatanatyam item by an upcoming student of Vani Ganapathy called Malavika Nair and when N Gururaj came on stage he was like floating! So light footed he was.
After this India’s only dance yearbook attenDance was launched by C Singh. This is 22nd year of its publication and senior journalist of Hyderabad Ranee Kumar who also wrote on dance for The Hindu, has guest edited this issue of very complex subject on mysticism and dance. Vani Ganapathy received the first copy, with healer Aparna getting second and distinguished IPS officer of Andhra Girish Kumar who had also served Bangalore receiving the third. Dr Khincha, after whose father the BVB hall is named was also present as Guest of Honour.
attenDance (www.attendance-india.com) is a unique brain child of pioneer dance scholar late Prof Mohan Khokar (1924-1999). He is the father figure of Indian dance. In theory and practice. His son and successor Ashish has also distinguished himself in the field with many accomplishments. He is lesser known in Bangalore for his work in arts administration which he pioneered in Delhi before coming to Bangalore. In Delhi, he served as deputy secretary of Delhi State Academy, then director of INTACH, after handling three Festivals of India in France, Sweden and China. Then he wrote as dance critic for mainstream media for 25 years. He knows both theory and practice and how to organise mega events. It was evident in all aspects of the evening: well curated, well conducted and to the point.
attenDance launch was followed by a most interesting interactive seminar, where 7 stars of dance teaching scene shared their thoughts and experience. Padmini Ravi is a senior, smart, star teacher, guru, promoter who used to mount the grand festival called Bangalore Habba. She made a very valid point that just because one lives in say Malleswaram (or Mylapore or Karol Bagh or Matunga) don’t select a neighborhood dance teacher for convenience. Search for the best one. Praveen Kumar, an established male dancer- teacher felt gender didn’t matter in dance. Freedom did. Rukmini Vijayakumar is a happening dance sensation , who said her presence or popularity on internet was unplanned. Other participants like co-founder of Nadam, Nandini Mehta, a Kathak institution and dancer-actress Laxmi Gopalswamy made brief statements while Vani Ganapathy read from written notes. She has star presence.
The evening concluded with a mixture of all forms that were performed before. Mohiniattam by Nair Sisters, very nicely done and Bharatanatyam of high standards by Aishwarya Nityanand. Kathak by Bhatts. It was amazing to see so many forms come together on patriotic song Vande Mataram. Audience was overwhelmed. Bangalore showed the way. All in all a much awaited and enjoyed event.
photos VB Suresh