Dancers nationwide unite to celebrate the labour of their love | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 27, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 27, 2008

Dancers nationwide unite to celebrate the labour of their love

Photo: Mumit M.

Like their contemporaries worldwide, dancers in Bangladesh are all set to celebrate the International Dance Day (April 29). A three-day long elaborate programme at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is underway; dancers from all spheres of the country will take part in the festivity. The celebrations begin today.
This year's International Dance Day celebration has become more significant to the dancers in Bangladesh. For the first time, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) is joining hands with Bangladesh Nrittyashilpi Sangstha in organising the whole event.
The meticulously planned elaborate programme began a month ago, scouting talented young dancers in every nook and corner of the country. The three-day programme at BSA is the finale where performances by the crème de la crème will be showcased.
To discuss the whole process and other aspects of International Dance Day, noted dancers of the country had an informal conference with The Daily Star at the office of the Director General (DG), BSA recently.
Among those attending the session were: Rahiza Khanam Jhunu, convenor and adviser of the Reception Committee; Sharmila Banerjee, member Central Committee; Minu Haque, convenor of the Seminar Sub-committee; Tamanna Rahman, member, Central Committee; Deepa Khandakar, convenor, Cultural Programme Sub-committee; Munmun Ahmed, member, Central Committee; Rawshan Ara Begum, member, Finance Sub-committee; Pinu Khan, member, Central Committee; Mohammad Abdul Qader Talukder, convenor, Competition (dance); Mohammad Golam Mustafa Khan, convenor, Accounts Sub-committee; Saju Ahmed, convenor, Souvenir; Nilufar Wahid, convenor, Media and Press Relations; Amanul Haque, co-convenor of the Festival Committee and Rafiqul Alam Shafiq, convenor, Entertainment Sub-committee. Golam Sarwar, deputy director, Drama Department, BSA who is in charge of decorating the venue, and the DG of BSA, Bhuinya Shafiqul Islam joined the meeting briefly.
Noted Manipuri dancer Tamanna Rahman pointed out some of the special attractions at the festival: performances by the Indian Mohiniattam exponent Pallavi Krishnan and guest artistes from China on the opening day (April 27).
The slogan of this year's International Dance Day celebration is “Nrityer Taal-e Taal-e, Bishwa Aaj Ekshathey”. The festival has been dedicated to the memory of Nrityaguru G.A. Mannan.
Minu Haque, Deepa Khandakar and Tamanna Rahman went over how the International Dance Day celebration was initiated in Bangladesh. According to the artistes, in 1982 the International Dance Committee of the International Theatre Institute, UNESCO, declared April 29 as the 'International Dance Day' (the date commemorates the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, the creator of modern ballet).
The intention of International Dance Day is to bring all dance forms and dancers together, to celebrate this art form and revel in its universality, to cross all political, cultural and ethnic barriers and bring everyone together in peace and friendship with a common language -- dance.
Minu Haque recalled, “In Bangladesh, dancer organisations and artistes have been celebrating International Dance Day for the last five years.”
Sharmila Banerjee pointed that this year's celebration might come across as grander than the previous arrangements but apparently, the occasion had been widely commemorated outside Dhaka over the years.
“Veteran danseuse Laila Hassan worked tirelessly to initiate the International Dance Day programme. For her contribution, the artiste will be honoured with a lifetime achievement award on the opening day of the festival,” said Tamanna Rahman.
Regarding BSA's involvement, Sharmila Banerjee said, “Bangladesh Nrityashilpi Sangstha approached the Ministry of Cultural Affairs regarding the celebration and the ministry gladly obliged. This facilitated our talent hunt programme at the district level much easier. The authorities at the district level have provided tremendous support in the process.”
Noted dancer Rahiza Khanam Jhunu added, “During the competitions nationwide, we noticed -- to our delight -- that the overall standard of dancers nationwide has improved significantly. The level of interest among the masses is also admirable.”
The three-day festival has a lot to offer. Apart from performances by the finalists of the nationwide dance competition, adivasi dancers will demonstrate their traditions performing art forms on the opening day; also noteworthy is a scheduled performance by the differently-abled.
On the second day of the festival (April 28), a seminar on “Impediments to Professionalism in Dance and Solutions” will be held. Dr. Shoma Mumtaz will read the keynote paper. Among others, Dr. Karunamaya Goswami, Dr. Afsar Ahmed and Rizwana Chowdhury Bannya are scheduled to attend the seminar as discussants.
Kaththak dancer Munmun Ahmed added that a unique mela will be held at the BSA venue that will display everything related to dance -- costumes, jewellery, make up, musical instruments and more. The mela will also feature live performances.
On the second day of the festival, dance programmes at three venues -- Rabindra Sarobar, TSC and Central Shaheed Minar -- will continue simultaneously.
As the dancers gear up for the grand celebration, one issue does surface. It has been a long standing complaint of the dancers and dance enthusiasts that while the art form has been an integral part of human culture throughout its history, it is under-prioritised by official establishments in the world. As Munmun says, “Dancers do not become superstars.”
Perhaps nationwide events like this will generate more interest in the art form among the masses and will help the dancers attain the much deserved popularity.

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