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The Stage is Set

One of the most awaited classical dance festivals in the city is back.  Featuring specially designed, site-specific group choreographies, Ananya Dance Festival’12 – now in its 11th year – will light up the majestic Purana Qila monument in New Delhi for five evenings starting October 6. Organised by the Department of Art, Culture, Languages, Delhi Government and Seher, this year’s edition of Ananya is the official event to celebrate 150 years of the Archaeological Survey of India. This is also the first time that in a new outreach initiative, Ananya is opening its floors to school students. On October 8, nearly 100 school children will get a chance to interact with the festival artists at the venue itself.


Moving away from the familiar format of performances or lecture demonstrations, students will get to see the other side of the performances by interacting with artists about the creative process, getting a backstage tour of the festival venue and trying out a few dance moves of their own! The workshop also aims to present the creative industry – music, dance, theatre, art and related professions – as a viable and alternative career option amongst the younger generation.


Says Sanjeev Bhargava, Creative Director, Ananya: “The festival has established itself as one of India’s best showcase of purity and depth in Indian classical dance. Since we have been getting consistent requests from people in other metros longing to witness the festival, Ananya will be beamed live in every nook and corner of India this time.”


While one the greatest achievements of Ananya have been to discover budding artistes and establish their indisputable talent, it has also maintained high standards by featuring established seniors to perform at this annual dance fest.


 On the inaugural day, viewers will get to see a group performance by Delhi-based Bharatanatyam exponent Saroja Vaidyanathan’s disciples, followed by a Kathak performance by Kolkata-based veteran danseuse Rani Karnaa’s disciples on the second day. Titled Piroye Moti, the performance is the choicest collection of Rani Karnaa’s rare solo compositions that she performed in 60s and 70s. Including a soulful Shiva Vandana in the dhrupad style, the beauteous Shringaar and the lyrical hindol taranaa, the stage will be lit up to the vigorous beats of Kathak.


 On the third day, Delhi-based Vijayalakshmi will perform a Mohiniattam recital,  titled Paryapti, inspired by the regional ethos and the musical tradition of Bengal. In this eclectic production, Mohiniattam finds a perfect expression for its quintessential femininity in the celebration of Durga, the embodiment of feminine and creative energy and the patron deity of Bengal. Paryapti celebrates the inherent divinity in all forms of creation and at all levels of society by exploring the culture, evolvement and status of courtesans in India. Courtesans have been extolled by poets in Indian literature as being accomplished in all the 64 art forms, epitomized in Indian mythology by Parvati, Shiva’s consort.


Over the ages, these courtesans played a significant role in the evolution and preservation of the rich traditions of Indian music and dance. However, at the turn of the 20th century, the courtesans had to bear social stigma and condemnation from society due to the displaced morality and orthodoxy that took root in India. According to Bengali folk legend, these marginalized women, shunned by society and treated as outcasts, pleaded with Shiva for compassion. Shiva bestowed his grace upon the courtesans and proclaimed that when Parvati’s homecoming is celebrated on Earth as Durga, her clay image would be complete only if the idol included soil from their house. To this day, soil from a sex worker’s house is a traditional requisite for the consecration of Durga’s idol and is a ritual marked by great piety. This ceremony redefines the sacred, underlining its inclusiveness, and is symbolic of these ostracized women’s desire for Paryapti or fulfilment.


Rudrakshya Dance Company, a contemporary Odissi dance ensemble founded by Guru Bichitrananda Swain, will take to the stage on the fourth day of the festival and a Bharatanatyam recital by the young couple from Chennai – Shijith Nambiar and Parvati Menon – will be the befitting finale to the festival. Their performance titled Spandan refers to mridangam syllables that originated from the divine cow Nandi’s mridangam. It is believed that when Nandi played his mridangam, lord Shiva danced to its beat. What more can an audience ask for?
Ananya Dance Festival will be held at Purana Qila, New Delhi from October 6 till October 10, 7 p.m. to 8.15 p.m. daily. Entry is free. For detailed schedule, visit www.sehernow.in 
Poonam Goel is a freelance journalist and has covered the arts for over 15 years. She contributes on visual arts for various newspapers, magazines and online media. More about her on Story Wallahs. Write to her @ poonamgoel2410@gmail.com

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