The third edition of ‘The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2022’, scheduled from November 25-27, is set to mark the return of this much-awaited festival enthralling evening dance productions to stage and much more, besides. It is organised by The Natya Ballet Centre, founded in 1960 by Kamla Lal in New Delhi, which continues to support and promote both established and upcoming talent as well as build its own repertory of new performances, both contemporary and classical.
Marking India’s milestone 75th year of independence by showcasing its vast and varied culture and traditions, the mega festival of dance brings to its viewers a three-day celebration of performing arts at two locations in the arts hub of Mandi House.
From puppets and puppeteers to timeless epic tales of Ramayana and Mahabharata told via dance, and conversations with the legends, the festival will have something for everyone. Some of the participating artists and experts are Parshwanath S Upadhye, Arshiya Sethi, Vikram Iyengar, Sandhya Raman, Dr. Navina Jafa, Dr. Anita Ratnam, Prof. Rita Gangully, Sharon Lowen, Dr. Shovana Narayan, Manjari Sinha, Dadi D Pudumjee, Navtej Johar and Ajay Bhatt.
As part of the festival, three evening performances at Kamani Auditorium – ‘Unmasked’ and ‘Abha’ in Bharatanatyam and ‘Draupadi’ in Odissi – will retell the ancient epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, but each with a twist in the tale.
‘Unmasked’ is a dramedy, a delightful mix of Bharatanatyam, Contemporary Dance and English Theatre, cleverly constructed and superbly choreographed by Jyotsna Shourie. It takes us on a journey to Lanka through the eyes of pivotal characters in the Ramayana, as it explores the character of Ravana through the eyes of his beautiful wife Mandodari.
In contrast, ‘Abha’ – choreographed by Parshwanath S. Upadhye and delivered in the traditional Bharatanatyam format – is a stunning retelling of the Ramayana through the eyes of Sita, with an unconventional delivery – paired with live musicians rendering soul-stirring music interspersed with verses in Mishra Awadhi, Kannada, Sanskrit and Marathi, with English narration.
Draupadi is a Natya Ballet Centre production, choreographed by Guru Aniruddha Das and Nibedita Mohapatra. The show explores the status of modern-day women against the backdrop of the life of Draupadi. This show has performed at the Khajuraho Dance Festival, the prestigious Cervantino Festival in Mexico and at the European Parliament.
In an effort to reach young, school-going audiences from NDMC school and others, the festival’s outreach programme curates and presents Dances of India, to showcase for them, India’s rich palette of classical and folk dances that incorporate both style and vigour, glorious costumes, elevating music and historical tidbits.
“Through our special dance curation, Dances of India, we endeavour to give the children something new to learn and a sense of India’s amazingly diverse and spectacular cultural landscape. Dance has been an ancient and integral part of India’s culture, be it the classical forms of Odissi from the East, Bharatanatyam from the South, Kathak from the North and the hundreds of beautiful folk dances from every region of this vibrant country.
In 2020, this festival was to be part of Natya Ballet Centre’s milestone 60th birthday celebrations which were shelved due to the pandemic. So, we are especially delighted to be presenting the third edition of this grand festival of dance, with three superb evening performances rooted in the ancient epics to three detailed lecture demonstrations, a more serious panel discussion on how to reboot the dance and excellent conversations with living legends of dance and the outreach programme that is so close to our hearts,” said Radhika Hoon, Chairperson, Natya Ballet Centre.
The first of the lecture demonstration series will invite attendees to the ever-fascinating world of puppeteering with exceptional award-winning puppeteers joining from across Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, each unique in their size, style, music and delivery. This session will be moderated by renowned puppeteer Dadi D. Pudumjee and filmmaker Shankhajeet De.
The second lecture demonstration will entail the study and dissection of ‘abhinaya’ by the eminent dancer Navtej Singh Johar. Added to the mix is the screening of dance films and a demonstration by two talented multidisciplinary artists of Sumedha Bhattacharyya and Gia S. Arora, who invite their audience into an immersive, experiential engagement of capturing dance on camera.
In a panel discussion, Tabula Rasa, the organizers and viewers foray into a compelling discourse with powerful voices from the field of dance, media, and academia, on the subject of rebooting the dance space post pandemic and pushing for solutions. Moderated by renowned arts entrepreneur Dr. Anita Ratnam, this session will feature panellists Dr. Navina Jafa, Fulbright Scholar and performer, Suanshu Khurana, music critic and Vikram Iyengar, dancer, filmmaker and researcher. The session has been curated by Sandhya Raman, Secretary Rasaja Foundation.
Finally, enriching conversations with three eminent and dynamic Indian women classical dancers – Prof. Rita Ganguly, Sharon Lowen and Dr. Shovana Narayan – who, having spent a lifetime dedicated to their craft, will bring to centre stage their individual journeys as artistes and as icons. All the talks and lectures demonstrations will take place at the Sangeet Natak Akademi.
The festival is supported by Sangeet Natak Akademi and sponsored by Sotheby’s India and Rasaja Foundation.