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The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2018

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The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2018
Festival Director & Co-curator: Nikita Maheshwary

Curatorial Note

Festivals are an important part of urban culture and play a central role in reflecting and adding to the social landscape of cities.

With the second edition of The Natya Ballet Dance Festival, we are back with three days of performances, a masterclass, dance film screenings, talks and discussions.

This year’s programme has been inspired by brilliant artists who are continually producing bold and assertive works that re-look and reinterpret conventional storytelling in today’s social and political context.

The evening performances this year are beyond pure dance. We are delighted to present The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust’s ‘Mahabharata’ & JustUs Repertory’s ‘Aham Sita’ which effortlessly blends plural mediums and vocabularies while challenging us to revisit the age-old epics in a different light.

We are equally pleased to present two unique performances from the Netherlands. While Vloeistof Dance Company’s ‘We are Waiting at the Border’ is a confrontational performance that makes one question the idea of boundaries; Korzo Theatre’s production 'Ayush' dissolves these boundaries further to bring together on stage the magical union of western dramaturgy and eastern philosophy.

Following the viral discussion around dance and choreography, our Conference ‘Dance Discourses’ this year, is taking a deeper look at the relationship between dance and theatre and dance and film.

The first afternoon of the conference takes us through the performance practices and works of multifaceted artists such as Maya Krishna Rao, Jyotsna Shourie, Gowri Ramnarayan and the late Veenapani Chawla & current performances of Adishakti Theatre. All of these artists have effortlessly imbibed the ageold principles of natya; amalgamating all three - dance, music & theatre, seamlessly in their oeuvre.

To experience and discuss four critically acclaimed and award-winning films, the second afternoon of 'Dance Discourses' is dedicated to reflect on how art can push boundaries to mobilize social change. While the film 'Bahuda' conveys the message of plurality; 'Shringaram', 'O, Friend, This Waiting!' and 'The Other Song' reflects on the marginalised identity of the devdasis (women temple dancers) and the tawaifperformers (courtesans) and talks at length about their unacknowledged contribution to Indian dance, theatre and cinema.

We are extremely proud to present the ‘Meet the Legends’ Series. The series are conversations with the icons of Indian dance such as Pandit Birju Maharaj, Astad Deboo, Mallika Sarabhai and Leela Samson. All four of these eminent personalities have a lifetime of work to speak for them. They are path breakers, masters of their craft and activists with a wealth of stories to share about their individual journeys. We thought it would be interesting for the dance fraternity and the public at large to hear them talk about their extraordinary lives.

This year, preceding the three days of the festival, we expanded our audience- engagement programme further with the hope of encountering many more ways of redefining and re-finding dance. During the month of November, we went to universities and institutions to engage with a young and discerning student audience with our {Exchange X Explore} programmes.