Prof. Deepti Ganapathy

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Dance in every step

A heavy summer drizzle followed by a gust a wind has thrown a carpet of dust on the stage. It is a lazy Sunday evening, but the trickle of audience into the amphitheatre is steady. A renowned Kathak exponent is compeering the show-“I welcome my connoisseurs of art lovers in the cultural capital Mysuru and hope they excuse me for the celestial showers that has wrecked this stage. The dancers have already pardoned me. Let us now witness the energy of the cosmos through the celestial dancer Nataraja in this Kuchpudi performance by Archana Punyesh…”


The energy of the dancers that follows captivates the audience along with the mellifluous narration in between by Mysore B Nagaraj who has been organizing these shows every month in Mysuru as part of his ‘Articulate Foundation’.


In a research paper titled ‘Militant Origins of Indian Dance’, that appeared in the journal ‘Social Scientist’ in 1980, author Chandralekha writes, “all the primary Indian dance forms originating in primitive and tribal societies are solidly linked with work activity. They were intimately related to functions of daily life like food gathering, hunting, fishing, cultivating and harvesting. The early tribal dances were particularly distinguished by their sources in rituals, gymnastics and martial arts. Dancing in these early communities was a means of expression as well as a method of building up energy circuits within the body and sharpening Every part of the country has its own dance forms using swords, shields and sticks which are all indicative of and preparations for combats. The sword and shield dances of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Coorg and Kerala are well 



In a world filled in strife, dance and music can be a messiah for the soul. As human beings, we often reflect each other but when we dance the movements, energy and exuberance can help us reach within and connect us to how we are.


Art lovers too feel transported into this realm. Take the case of Seshadri Pandit and Vinay Pathak, two retired bank officials who make it a point to travel 800 kms to Khajuraho to witness the festival of dances every year. For over four decades, Khajuraho and Konark dance festivals are organized by the Department of Culture in their endeavor to protect, promote and publicize folk as well as classical dances. The resplendent backdrop of their temples and the movements of the dancers is a magical setting.


“Dance is an act of worship, body is an instrument of devotion”-is a line that stands out in the Articulate dance festival invite. “Kathak is a form of storytelling. Unfortunately, it became glamorized in Indian cinema as a mujra. This is due to the Mughal influence. It is perhaps the most expressive of all the 8 Indian classical dance forms,” says Mysore B Nagaraj as he introduces his next artist Kavyashree Nagaraj, who has raised millions of dollars through her shows world-wide to raise awareness about Kathak as well as train visually challenged children in this art form.


“Dance is the ultimate form of creative expression because it has the medium of music which can reach the hearts of everyone-be it a kid who lacks confidence, a depressed adult and autistic child or a difficult teenager, it binds groups together, makes us more accepting in a social environment and is a great stress buster. Hence, it is effective as both a physical and mental fitness tool,” says Bengaluru-based Mridula Martis who gave up a successful career as Chartered Accountant to train as a dancer. She has written "There is a dance for every song" which charts her journey into dance and a few children's books which are based on her real life interaction with kids.


Tarika Valli, from Lisbon, Portugal came to India and learned Bharatanatyam. “The bond for Indian Culture and Bharatanatyam started more than 25 years ago. The talent, knowledge and love of my Gurus, indisputably built the bridge that connected my European culture with India. And yet, after 25 years practising Bharatanatyam, the main reason of my attraction for Bharatanatyam remains a mystery. Probably a combination of the discipline requested by Bharatanatyam, the way my Gurus taught it, and their unconditional love for their art. Born in France to Portuguese parents, I had a European cultural background and my getting into Indian culture could only be a slow process. Studying and mastering the art of Bharatanatyam is a never-ending challenge that eventually gives you a greater stability and an incredible resilience, physically and morally,” says Tarika. 


Dance has the potential to initiate social change. We need to look over our shoulder at our ancient past to view this evidence.




“Dance expands your imagination, it makes you reach within and become an artist with bolder


colours. It has changed many people’s lives and teaches me something new every day. One life


to live, I choose to dance!!”-Mridula Martis


“Dance is another language, a language of the body which gives the dancer a deep sense of inner


peace based on the connection between breath and movements. This inner peace can then be


shared with the public (or your student when you teach) and as a final result, helps spread peace


in the wider world.”-Tarika Valli 


April 29, 2017: International Dance Day

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