Dance Festival of India 2003 
by Shruthi Mukund 
December 9, 2003   
The DC metro area witnessed an Indian dance extravaganza  - “Dance Festival of India 2003” over 3 days, 21st to 23rd Nov at Thomas Jefferson Theater, 125 S. Old Glebe Road, in Arlington, VA. The Indian Dance Educators Association (IDEA) along with the Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division and the Embassy of India presented the Festival. The theme of the festival was to highlight the male Tandava and the female Lasya, as expressed through Indian dance by presenting six showcases, with 70 dancers from all Indian Classical styles over 3 days. 

Day 1 of the Festival began promptly at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 21st  with the Opening Ceremony presided over by the Ambassador of India, His Excellency Shri Lalit Mansingh, and his wife, Indira Mansingh, who lit the traditional oil lamp.

Day One 

  • The first showcase of the festival was the Rukmini Devi Centennial Showcase that featured examples of traditional classical dances from six major Indian styles – Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Odissi. This showcase was produced by Christel Stevens, who also performed the Manipuri and her students performed Bharatanatyam. Shobha Subramaniam performed in the Mohiniattam style, Lakshmi Babu and guest artiste Swathi performed Kuchipudi. Also presented was Simhanandini - a unique temple dance of Andhra in which the dancer paints the picture of a lion with her feet during the dance. Kuchipudi dance was accompanied by Lalita Swaminathan on vocal and 12 year old Ranjna Swaminathan on Mridangam. Nattuvangam by young guru Vedantam Raghava was a treat. Lori Clark in Kathak style and Bani Ray in Odissi style were the other guest artistes who made the evening an unforgettable one by demonstrating how unique each style is. 
Day Two 
  • Day Two began with a Lecture Demonstration on Yoga, Martial Arts and its relation to Classical Indian Dance. It was fascinating to learn about the co-relation of Yoga and Martial arts in Classical Dance and how different movements, positions and stances evolved. This was presented by Dhananjay Kumar, Nanda Bondade, Daya Ravi and Anandi Ramachandran.
  • The first showcase of the evening was the Siddhendra Yogi Showcase, featuring “Menaka-Viswamitra” a dance-drama adapted from Indian mythology of how Lord Indira sends his heavenly beauties or Apsaras to the earth to ruin Sage Vishwamitra’s penance. This was produced and directed by Lakshmi Babu of Kuchipudi Dance Academy along with guest artistes Guru Vedantam Raghava, his disciple Swathi and local Bharatanatyam dancer Shruthi Mukund.
  • The next showcase was the Udayshankar Creative Dance Showcase, which featured guest artist Arjun Raina, actor/dancer who used the elaborate costume, music, songs, dance and theatricality of Kathakali, a 16th century dance theatre form and combined it with spoken and enacted texts and scenes from Shakespeare in “Magic Hour”. This showcase was produced by Anuradha Nehru.
  • The last showcase on Saturday was the Shambhu Maharaj Showcase, which was the Kathak showcase produced by Asha Vattikutti who also performed in it. This began with the Kathak ballet, “Panchabhoot: Elements of Nature” presented by local Kathak artistes. This was followed by a performance by guest artist Rina Singha, who performed “And Their Eyes Met”, based on the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in Kathak style.
Day Three 
  • Day Three began with a panel discussion on “Modern Elements in Indian Dance” This gave artistes a platform to discuss all the changes and evolutions they are observing in the art form due to modern influences. We had Divya Kumar moderating with Rina Singha, Anuradha Nehru and Shruthi Mukund participating on the panel.
  • The Sanjukta Panigrahi Showcase was the first showcase of the evening.  This was the Odissi Dance showcase, presented according to traditional repertoire by local and guest artistes Swati Apte and Kripa Iyer. This was produced by Sukanya Mukherjee who also performed in the showcase along with her students.
  • The last showcase of the day as well as the Festival’s was the Bala Saraswati Showcase, which was a traditional presentation in the Bharatanatyam style. They performed an expression/emotion based, abhinaya piece, the Dasavataram along with pure dance movement, nritta pieces, Laya Vinayasam and the Tillana. This show was produced and performed by a group of local Bharatanatyam dance teachers, Daya Ravi, Lakshmi Swaminathan, Priya Srikanth, Divya Vivek and Anita Sivaram.
The Tillana is a rhythmic and climatic piece that was a fitting end to the colorful, vibrant and educative 3-day long festival. The aim of IDEA was to share the wonderful wealth of Indian dance with everyone. Small drops of water make an ocean. With many more events like this IDEA would like Indian dance forms to get the recognition it deserves. IDEA is the only unified dancers organization in North America dedicated to preserve and promote Indian Classical Dance to wider audiences in America. IDEA can proudly say that the festival attracts audience of races and walks of life and have received their appreciation. This is encouraging and makes IDEA want to present more of these events in future that audiences can learn from as well as enjoy. 

Membership to IDEA is open to all. Information about the organization can be found at 

The Indian Dance Educators Association is a 501©(3) organization of performers and teachers of Indian traditional dance styles who reside in the Washington, DC-Baltimore metropolitan area. Their bi-annual showcase is a forum for new works, traditional repertoire, and topics of interest for dancers and dance audiences. Showcases this year were named after leading performers and gurus (teachers) of past eras in India. Performers in the showcases included local dancers as well as guest artists from other parts of North America, Canada and India. For more information on the organization, artistes and the festival, please visit website: