Every evening will feature only 1 main artist; preceeded by a short piece by local dancers.
HP government, department of art language and culture is holding the first Classical Dance Festival at the iconic Gaiety Theatre on the Ridge Shimla from March 9-11. In the past, the department has collaborated with the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Delhi to hold classical dance events, but this is the first festival organised solely by the State government. Featuring different classical dance forms, for three consecutive days is definitely a welcome step, and he organizers are having interactive sessions with students if dance too, on all three days.
Secretary Language Art and Culture, Dr Purnima Chauhan, is an old Shimla-ite, having done her schooling, college and post graduation in Shimla, and she verbalized “ I am really happy that we are able to give the classical arts a platform in Shimla; we plan to hold events in other towns of Himachal as well, including Manali, Mandi, Dharamshala.
The Classical Music Festival has been very successfully held every year for the last 4 years today and is now a significant event in the calendar of classical music events in India; we hope the Classical Dance Festival too acquires the same stature.”
Every evening will feature only 1 main artist; preceeded by a short piece by local dancers. The Festival opens with the traditional classical dance of North India, Kathak, which developed as a dance form in the Awadh court.
Pandit Rajendra Gangani who dances in the Kathak style of the Jaipur gharana, and is a 7th generation practitioner of his art, is today regarded as the leading kathak dancer of his generation, and has also been awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2003.
The second day features Manipuri dance — a first time for Shimla. The artist Bimbavati Devi, again a leading exponent of the dance form, has planned her repertoire very carefully; while Manipuri relies very heavily for inspiration from the Vaishnava, Shri Krishna tradition, Bimbavati Devi will be also dancing a piece dedicated to Lord Shiva, based on the Rudrashthtakam stotra, knowing that residents of Shimla have a strong connection with Lord Shiva. She along with her 5 member troupe will present “Ras leela”, (the dance of the gopis of Vrindavan with Lord Krishna, in his boyhood days) as well as other episodes from the life of Shri Krishna.
These include the young Krishna stealing butter when his mother Yashoda is not home, “kanduk khel” when Balaram and Krishna play with a ball, and Krishna loses. Both brothers reconcile after the game by dancing together. Another item to look out for will be the “Radha Roop Vaman”, a beautiful dance depicting the various facets of Radha’s grace and beauty through different descriptions. Bimbavati Devi said she was really pleased that Classical Dance was being promoted in as distant a place for her as Shimla and that Manipuri had been selected.
The concluding day will end with a Bharatanatyam recital by Padmashri, and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, Geeta Chandran.
The department is taking great care to ensure the best arrangements, with a video screen on the Ridge outside so people who do not get seats inside the hall can enjoy the dances outside. Amazingly, there are over 40 students in Shimla alone learning kathak; it will be a huge inspiration for them to see artists of such stature perform live.