Nan Melville’s documentary on Nrityagram
Pics: Nan Melville Photography & Video
August 15, 2011
The documentary NRITYAGRAM: FOR THE LOVE OF DANCE tells the story of the Nrityagram Dance Village and the dance ensemble that has made it world famous. The 30-minute version debuted at the Dance Films Association’s 38th Dance on Camera Festival on January 25, 2010 at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, NY.
The late Protima Bedi institutionalized Odissi through the founding of Nrityagram, meaning a “dance village” near Bangalore in 1988. It is home to an all-female dance ensemble of the same name. Company members live together and study their art with master gurus in the gurukul. Since her death in 1998, her vision has not only been continued, but has been expanded upon. Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy work to expand the language of the Odissi dance form based on their study of the Natya Shastra, as well as through the incorporation of choreographic techniques adapted from world dance. Surupa has pushed the boundaries of Indian dance and gained international recognition for the dynamic imagery of her choreography.
Nan Melville first met the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble when she was assigned by the New York Times to photograph their debut performance in New York in 1996. She was so enchanted by the dancers and the concept of Nrityagram that she jumped at Protima Bedi’s invitation to visit the school in India and subsequently decided to make a documentary film about the Nrityagram Dance Village and Ensemble. She traveled to India twice to film life in the dance village, and research archival materials. The documentary would be used to promote awareness of Nrityagram and as a tool to assist Lynne Fernandez, Executive Director, with fundraising for the school.
Nan Melville is an accomplished photographer and videographer. She has been based in New York City since she left South Africa in 1986. She has been assigned to photograph international figures and performers and often travels abroad on photo assignments. Her photographs are syndicated worldwide and have appeared in many overseas publications – both magazines and newspapers. As more of her clients began requesting video work, Nan expanded her expertise into videography. Her video experience led to an interest in documentary film making. Apart from the documentary on Nrityagram, she has produced a documentary on the Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company.