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Performing at Hampi Utsava
- Nayana Bhat, Bangalore

November 26, 2007

Dancing at an art festival is a pleasure for the simple reason that colors, people, fun and frolic, enthusiasm and anticipation are what every festival is made of. Who does not like the spirit of a festival?

Being a part of history is what everyone dreams of. This dream came true for us, quite literally, when our troupe was invited to perform at the Hampi Utsava this year.

For an artiste, each performance is different. The feel is different, so are the audiences. Despite having traveled across the country and abroad, the Hampi experience was unusual for us. First of all the spectators were a blend of the niche village crowd and innumerable foreign visitors. Not only did we have to highlight our cultural exuberance to the foreigners but also keep our own villagers engaged in our performance.

Hampi gives you a long list of places to visit, which if you fail to sight, you would miss out on the exceptional architectural work that has largely defined the south Indian architectural style. The best way to get around Hampi, we thought, was hiring cycles and pedaling around the rocky settlement. But what we actually didn't think about was that the area was hilly and cycling uphill was going to be quite an exercise, also because it was the typical burning weather of the plateau. As the legendary Virupaksha, the divine figure of Laxmi Narasimha, the daunting statue of Ugra Narasimha took picturesque shapes in our minds, we learnt Hampi was the widest spread heritage site in the world!

Hampi made us realize how an artiste draws inspiration and strength from art itself to feed his or her creative energy. Despite the harsh heat and the cycle trip through the site, we were in high spirits to perform that evening. The air in Hampi is such that one invariably has his morales high. Apart from the history that was driving us, the eclectic artiste crowd was nonetheless a boost to our spirits. The variety of art forms lined up was humongous! Each performing art form had a variety to present. For example, dance forms performed included Bharatanatyam, Kathak, contemporary, Mohiniattam, folk dances from Africa, Thailand, Colombo and so on. The same was the case with every presentation made at the festival. This multiplicity offered, all at once, was not only culturally rich and overwhelming but also had a social message of oneness.

Hampi Utsava, spread over three days, had hundreds of events happening at various stages and venues. We had more than 300 artistes around, thousands of visitors from all over the world, who had come to witness the extravaganza. We had a task in hand. To perform our best, to make a mark in the temple of art, to become a part of the history.

The show began, started with a godly composition on lord Vishnu and went on with a variety of choreographies, comprising of pure dance, theme-based items and folk-inspired pieces. By the end of the half-hour show, we had the organizers complimenting us onstage and art lovers flooding at the backstage to congratulate us on our work. Most of them had the same enquiry. "How did you manage to throw that amount of energy at us? Where does it all come from?"

Well. They would never know nor understand the secret in art. Places like Hampi do that to you!

Nayana Bhat is a company member of Bangalore based contemporary dance group Nritarutya.

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