Rendezvous with Tradition and Beyond  
- Michel Laverdière, Montreal  
Photos: Michel Neveu 
November 5, 2007 

Dance was at the centre of Kala Bharati's participation in the Journées de la Culture on Sunday, 30th September 2007, held at the LADMMI studio with discussions and demonstrations on Tradition and Beyond in which well known dancers and teachers demonstrated how they have pushed the frontiers of the dance forms they practise.  

From the very beginning, one could feel electricity in the air as the audience entered the hall and soon extra chairs had to be added. First sign of excitement: a gathering larger than expected is always a good omen! 

At the very outset, Bhava Thamotharan, who ably emceed the event, introduced the two segments that were to follow. Kyra Lober, of Body, Being and Heart, who trained and performed as a Contemporary dancer and Eva von Gencsy, founder of The Ballet Jazz in Montreal, who needs no introduction, presented the first part of the event, in which they spoke on how they both have extended their use of dance to generate a state of well being. 

Kyra Lober introduced her approach to dance involving not only physical movements, but also the fundamental unity between the inner self and the heart. At her invitation several members of the audience got up spontaneously and joined her to demonstrate. Kyra's words were no longer theoretical concepts but became alive and practical. 

Eva von Gencsy picked up the theme of well being through dance using rhythms and movements. She took the participants through a routine setting the pace for an invigorating workout in which dance translated into pure energy. Such is the force of Eva’s boundless energy that even those sitting and watching felt they were dancing in their chairs. 

In the second segment, Mamata Niyogi-Nakra, Artistic Director of Kala Bharati, Bharata Natya Centre in Montreal, and Shakuntala, a Bharata Natya dancer from France, took us through a different trajectory in which we got glimpses of how the frontiers of the traditional art of Bharata Natya have been pushed through their explorations in its practice.  

Mamata took us through a choreographic landscape traversing a wide spectrum of her works: from the much acclaimed Seasonscape, which premiered at Tangente, Montreal, and was recorded by Doordarshan, the Indian national TV channel, to Shishu Sadhana, a child-friendly Bharata Natya repertoire, a path breaking work in the area of Dance and the Child. The extract from "Dans jazz-ku", in which haiku poems have been interpreted through Bharata Natya movements to the accompaniment of Jazz music, illustrated how it is possible to bring three different art forms together while each remaining rooted in its own tradition. It was a memorable retrospective for all of us who have seen La Troupe Kala Bharati's performances. 

Shakuntala performed a traditional item on Lord Nataraja to situate her practice of Bharata Natya. Using this item as a point of reference she went on to demonstrate how it was conventionally done in temple settings with limited space, thus showing the transition of Bharata Natya presentations from the temple to the theatre. Shakuntala has a very intense approach to her art and she really brought a new dimension to dance performance by mixing dance movements and poetry, close to mime and storytelling, which allowed us to witness such a touching and unforgettable demonstration. 

It was truly one of a kind and dance historian Vincent Warren's comments to sum up the three-hour rendezvous with Tradition and Beyond echoed the joy and excitement  experienced by a captivated audience. Renu Chitra closed the formal part of the proceedings with a vote of thanks on behalf of Nrityajyoti, but many stayed on longer to gather around the speakers and artists to share their feelings and grateful comments. A memorable Journée de la Culture - of the body and soul! 

Michel Laverdière is a Montreal based producer of music records and is well known in the city’s cultural scene. He has been associated with Kala Bharati for over 25 years as consultant. 

Note: Kala Bharati plans to bring out a publication on this topic presenting the views expressed by the five artists who participated in this event. If you have any ideas or comments please send them to  
If they are included in the published document, your contribution will be duly acknowledged and you will be given full credits for your views.