Rencontres de la danse Indienne  
- Chloé Romero, France
Photos: Gaetan Tailor 

November 7, 2008 
The 'Rencontres de la danse Indienne' (Indian Dance Meeting) is the first French festival dedicated to Indian classical dance only. The first edition took place in Montpellier, in the south of the country, on 11th and 12th of October. The program of this two-day festival comprised workshops as well as lectures, exhibitions, showcases and performances, with performers from different areas of France and three guests from Delhi.  

Workshop-Yogadance therapy
Workshops were organised on Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak and Mohinattam styles. Soraya Franco, ballet and contemporary dancer from Dominican Republic now based in India, came to teach her own method based on yoga and dance benefits, called 'Yogadance therapy.' Some additional classes in Indian music completed the program.  

Mannochhaya - Katia Légeret, eminent scholar from Sorbonne University in Paris, author of books on Indian dance, and professional Bharatanatyam dancer, gave a lecture about transmission and perception of Indian dance in France. A showcase open to creation was held on Saturday, and a performance mixing Indian dance and French medieval poetry happened on Sunday. 

Isabelle Anna
Mayuka Ueno Gayer
The main attractions were of course the evening performances. 14 artists performed during the two days, representing 5 styles of Indian dance. The most admired was maybe the Kathak dance of Isabelle Anna, disciple of Pandit Jaikishan Maharaj and ICCR scholar, and the demonstration of Surendranath Jena Odissi style from Mayuka Ueno Gayer, but many other very good professional dancers also gained the appreciation of the audience.  

"I found the festival to be pleasant and well-organised. Montpellier is a beautiful city, quite easily reachable by land and air. The festival venue was spacious, peaceful and easy to find. The organisation was helpful, friendly and efficient. Furthermore, the treatment by the organisers was very humane and personal, which I consider a big plus: since I was a foreigner in Montpellier, didn't know anybody and hardly speak French, this made me feel at ease and at home right away. I found the Odissi workshop, to be very insightful and what I would consider "authentic," as well as very enjoyable. The same goes for the Mohiniattam workshop. I liked that, even though it was a discovery course, they insisted on correct posture and meaning of the dance moves, instead of just trying to make it funny or enjoyable in a "westernised" way. The aspect of the dance that does not come alive in a class was very well illustrated by the performances and I was lucky to attend one of them. For me the festival was a valuable experience that made me decide to pursue acquaintance with Odissi beyond the discovery level and I am looking forward to participating in any of the festivalís subsequent editions," says Lena Kanellou, a Spanish spectator.  


The purpose of this event was to promote the different styles of Indian dance, to encourage interaction between artistes from different backgrounds, and also to support creation, reflection and academic research. In France, institutions, festivals and other events are not well developed in Indian dance. It is quite surprising when we compare to the number of practitioners and ICCR scholars and artistes of the territory. This project was a first step to gather the different practises and initiatives. 

The first edition's success encourages us to plan a new one for October 2009 that we dream with a more European dimension.  

Chloé Romero is an organiser and student of Odissi.