The featured performances evoke diverse connotations of devotion and romance. Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
Nrityanchal hosted a grand celebration programme marking International Dance Day. The event, featuring classical, srijanshil, sufi, adhunik, folk, and fusion dance, was held at the National Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on April 28.
The event, jointly directed by Shameem Ara Nipa and Shibli Mohammad, was divided into two sessions -- presentation of dances by the 200 students of Nrityanchal School and performance of fascinating dance pieces by the 50 accomplished artistes of the troupe.
Dr. Mahua Mukherjee, Dr. Tarun Pradhan, Shameem Ara Nipa, Shibli Mohammad, Dr. Soma Mumtaz, Swapan Majumder, Kazi Rakibul Haque, Sarwar Ahmed, Jamal Ahmed Lavlu, Irin Parvin, Shammi Yasmin Jhinuk and others choreographed the featured dance pieces.
The event set off with the pulsating beats of dhak-dhol to connect all the dancers' souls of the world. The child artistes of Nrityanchal school, attired in bright costumes, danced to the diverse musical genre including, pahadi, Bengali and folk. Senior and diploma course students skillfully presented a Kathak piece set on a Malkauns tarana.
Eminent cultural and media personality and the coordinator of Nrityanchal Muhammad Jahangir, in his speech, underscored the significance of International Dance Day with highlighting the crux of this year's message.
In 1982, the Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) founded International Dance Day to be celebrated every year on April 29. The date commemorates the birthday of Jean Georges Noverre (29 April 1727 – 19 October 1810), a French dancer, reformer and ballet master.
The intention of International Dance Day and the message is to bring all dancers together on this day, to celebrate this art form and revel in its universality, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring people together in peace and friendship with a common language -- dance.
Every year, a noted dancer gives message marking the day. This year the message has been written by Mourad Merzouki, a French ballet artiste.
Muhammad Jahangir also hoped that one day a Bangladeshi dancer-choreographer will be called to give a message.
The second session of the programme was more vibrant. Several accomplished artistes of the organisation aesthetically performed a classical (Gaudiya) piece, Ganesh Bandana. The dancers seemed immersed in devotion with the kirtananga music.
Presentation of a Sufi dance followed. Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, emphasizes universal love, peace, acceptance of various spiritual paths and a mystical union with the divine. It is associated with the dancing of whirling dervishes, who originated in the 13th century as followers of the poet and mystic, Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi. Rumi says, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!”
Several artistes searched for the divine through the art of spinning their bodies in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the solar system orbiting the sun.
Wazir Ali Khan introduced thumri in Kathak dance. Two artistes of the troupe performed a Kathak composition on a Yaman thumri. A display of srijanshil dance and then a number of artistes danced to the folk-fusion song “Uthali Pathali Dheu-e Chole Naiya.” The soothing rhythm of a Tagore song “Mon Mor Megher Shongi” took the packed audience in the realm of fantasy while several artistes danced to it. A performance of the spirited marshal dance “Raibeshe” followed next.
Nrityanchal artistes offered a riveting Kathak piece set mainly on Raga Hansadhwani. Choreographed by Shibli Mohammad, four female artistes, joining in pairs in front of two mirrors, enthralled the swarming spectators with their euphoric expressions, speedy footwork and graceful mudra. The dancers stood out in their throwing of romantic gestures while dancing to a medley of sweet tunes of ragas — Kafi, Khamaj and Pilu.
The event came to an end with a dazzling performance set on a patriotic song “O Prithibi Ebar Eshe Bangladesh Nao Chiney,” choreographed by Nipa.
The featured performances seemed enthralling as they added diverse connotations of devotion and romance. The dancers' returning to “shom” was fascinating while their splitting and unifying styles with mudra and movements were gripping. They told myriads stories of romance through their facial expression. The artistes seemed to enjoy every bit of their performances, swaying the audience as well.
At the end of the performance, noted actress Sarah Begum Kabori, came up on stage and said, “I am deeply moved to watch such a fascinating event that involved the art of dance and music in an excellent balance of the artistes' expressions with their costumes and light and set design.”