International Dance Day 2008
Jeyanthi R. Ghatraju
"The physical acts of any form of dance ultimately embrace the power of unity, strength and beauty" claims Gladys Aghulas in his message on the eve of the International Dance Day 2008. The first of this eventful day dates back to 1982, when on the 29th of the April, dance choreographers, teachers and patrons of the various forms of dance came together to give a fillip to this art. The foremost objective was to make awareness of this art in the countries where dance was either neglected or least encouraged. This day was a strange coincidence with the birthday of Jean George Noverre the creator of modern ballet. This art form, irrespective of the country, revels in the universality to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together in peace and harmony. To offer further footing to this effort, the International Dance Committee launched a collaborative move to celebrate this day as an international event and also set norms for the conduct of the celebrations. There has been widespread response to the call of the International Dance committee in that this day has become a regular annual event.
Exponents of the different forms of dance from various institutions assembled on the 29th day of April and exchanged ideas with the customary enthusiasm. Much deliberations were addressed to take the art to the untenanted areas in an endeavor to attract more aspirants .Programs were also chalked to ease the hardships encountered in imparting this art to the students with differing skills and abilities and the celebrations concluded with dance rendering by a section of the participants.
In keeping up with the spirit of the celebration, a small group of dancers from the Boston area got together on April 29th and paid tribute to their passion at Smt. Neena Gulati's studio in Brookline, MA. Jeyanthi Ghatraju got the initial planning going weeks ahead and still, the participant number kept declining due to work scheduling and other domestic issues. On the 29th evening, four dedicated dancers – Janani Giri Swamy, Mari Shakthi Muthuswamy, Jeyanthi Ghatraju and Neena Gulati shared their love for dance while Monica and Amy, senior disciples of Guru Neena played the enthusiastic audience.
Janani aptly started the program with a melodious vocal invocation on Lord Ganesha, "Sri Ganesha Charanam" in ragam Thilang and followed it with a crisp nritta-filled pushpanjali and "Aingaranai", in praise of Lord Ganesha. Mari Shakthi then presented an Iyyappan padam, beautifully depicting the greatness of the young Lord. Jeyanthi followed it with a padam in praise of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, (Sayeeswara nee padamula), describing the experiences of a devotee coming into his loving and caring fold. A fitting finale was a portion of the Kaliya nardhanam by Neena Gulati. Dancing for over 60 years, she still showed the tenacity, and the briskness in her presentation and one was in awe at the sincerity and the dedication in her approach to dance. The short program concluded with Monica reading the International dance day message, by Gladys Faith Agulhas of Agulhas Theatre Works, Johannesburg.
All in all, it was an intimate, warm gathering of dance enthusiasts paying tribute to a beautiful art form where dance was the centerpiece. Everyone strongly felt the urge to keep it continuing throughout the year, in addition to the special day and I hope it does.
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