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World Dance Day at Bangalore International Centre
Photos: VB Suresh

May 12, 2024

Bangalore International Centre (BIC) is Bangalore's answer to a modern cultural venue with all facilities, high class aesthetics in architecture, design and stage. Add fine dining and parking too! Since it has members, there is also a readymade audience. BIC hosted a large single day gathering of dancers for celebrating International Dance Day on May 5, 2024. Such a gathering was happening for the tenth year (earlier editions were mostly at Alliance Francaise and Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), helmed by dance critic and scholar Ashish Khokar.

World Dance Day at BIC - Photo exhibition
Photo exhibition

Curating by Ashish Khokar meant giving unique touches, like giving upcoming new dance field photographers (VB Suresh, Madhukar, Ravi Shankar) prominence by exhibiting their works. Instead of a flat wall display - as is often done in most exhibitions - here, nine dancers held one frame each and danced from foyer to frame and artistically placed each photo frame on an easel thereby making it a three dimensional display. The lighting of lamp by dance gurus like Vani Ganapathy, Veena Murthy Vijay, Mysore Nagaraj, Anuradha Shridhar and Gayatri Kesavan started the function.

The show started on time and 55 dancers later, finished ten minutes before schedule. Masterly conducting of stage by Odissi dancer Anjali Urs in first half and Ashish Khokar himself in second half, gave audience clear information and inroads into each form, item and the dancer. They used humour to delight the captive audience.

World Dance Day at BIC - Nrityantar ensemble
Nrityantar ensemble

The first item had technical hitch and many senior citizens were coughing due to excessive use of the smoke machine. Nadam's Kathak is generally of high merit and they sent real juniors to this event for the opening item they undertook on lord Ganesha to remove all obstacles. Odissi by Nrityantar was top class, with uniform ability and display. Even small kids were perfect, proving how their teacher Madhulita Mohapatra trains them for excellent finish and group work. Dancing like dolls, Bharatanatyam was presented clinically by the well dressed and turned out group of Guru Gayatri Kesavan. Modern dance by Vishwakiran Nambi and student showed where this form is going in Bangalore, and provided a good diversion.

World Dance Day at BIC - Veena Murthy Vijay's students
Veena Murthy Vijay's students

Mohiniattam by students of the Nair sisters was pretty, each one acquitting well. It gave a delightful account of their stage worthiness. In Kuchipudi by guru Veena Murthy's students, each was well trained and showcased their dexterity by dancing on plates with a pot on the head. The lone boy smiled all through and there was joy on their faces for being in the World Dance Day celebrations.

World Dance Day at BIC - Book release
Ashish Khokar, Vani Ganapathy, Veena Murthy Vijay, Uma Anantani, Vikram Bhatt

The next part was a film on how attenDance had travelled in 25 years. To survive this long as a dance yearbook without any corporate support or government grants is in itself herculean. Its latest issue on Pune was released and a book on pioneer 'Mohan Khokar - the Father figure of dance history' published by IGNCA was shared with Vani Ganapathy and the first copy given to director of BIC, Vikram Bhatt and attenDance Pune special to gurus Uma Anantani from Ahmedabad and Veena Murthy Vijay of Bangalore. After that, soloists were presented.

The art of the soloist is marginalised today as all teachers want to show maximum students on stage, in annual days or productions. Parents also feel proud to see their wards on stage. It justifies fee and all extra work. Hence, very few can dance solo for even half an hour without being tired. This platform had part of the evening dedicated to nine soloists.

World Dance Day at BIC - Aditya Nataraja
Aditya Nataraja

Aditya Nataraja started the next segment on the art of the soloist. A wonder boy of 13 with puffed hair, dancing with clarity and balance, he is a prodigy and a smiling lad who never once went out of breath dancing. He was followed by 15 year Shaivi Gururaj who also gave a good account of her art and training. Kathak by Laxminarayan Jena, with lot of energy and aplomb led to hooting from his fan club. Twin sisters Archana and Chetana brought out the beauty of symmetrical poses. Bianca Radhakrishnan in solo format showed where she stands in her art today while Washim Raja in Kuchipudi was outstanding. He is a complete artiste and got a standing ovation.

World Dance Day at BIC - Washim Raja
Washim Raja
World Dance Day at BIC - Aishwarya Nityananda
Aishwarya Nityananda

The Rasadhwani group from Ahmedabad under Guru Uma Anantani presented 'Gandhi-Gita' where Bharatanatyam language was used to show orange for uniformity, green for peace and white for liberty in the end with the colours of Indian flag unfolding. Shivangee Vikram, Mrinalini and Khushi formed the team. Shobhit Ramesh acquitted himself well as a talented male performer. Aishwarya Nityananda proved why she is from another era with her deep, slow and perfect rendition. In the end when four dancers - Anil Iyer, Nikhil Parmar, Washim Raja and Vishwakiran Nambi - came together in Vande Mataram the whole hall felt the theme. They were a perfect team together and as soloists in sections.

World Dance Day at BIC - Vishwakiran Nambi, Nikhil Parmar, Washim Raja, Anil Iyer
Vishwakiran Nambi, Nikhil Parmar, Washim Raja, Anil Iyer

This was an event that was inclusive and responsible to all forms and age groups. Even the dinner for dancers had class with rose petals and tea candles and individual coupons showing Krishna eating butter, neatly organised by Elisabeth Hall and Narain Bhandari. The podium was well decorated with ikebana floral arrangement by Geetha Bhatt, dedicating the evening with two lit lamps to two dance greats - Mohan and M.K.Saroja Khokar. Long lines at BIC were well managed by team of Sandhya and Saraswati. 108 dancers in one place, one day, one evening was the ultimate high.

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