One of the most popular classical dance festivals, the Khajuraho Dance Festival, is back. The festival is organised annually to promote India’s rich cultural heritage, and is held at the backdrop of the historical Khajuraho Temple. The festival attracts scores of tourists from all across the world and features performances by some renowned classical dancers.
Organised by the Department of Culture, Madhya Pradesh Government, Ustad Allaudin Sangeet Kala Akademi with the support from Incredible India and other organisations, the festival is one of the first major live festivals being held after the lockdown. The first day of the festival, which commenced on February 20, saw a performance by Bharatanatyam exponent Padma Shri Geeta Chandran, founder-director of Natya Vriksha dance company, New Delhi. Geeta and her troupe of talented dancers performed a group presentation called Anekanta. It is inspired by the Jain philosophy that there is no one universal truth or just one way of looking at things. There are multiple realities to every issue, whether it is cultural, political or social. Geeta portrayed an artistic perspective in the contemporary scenario as to how we can adopt Jain philosophy for better living and existence.
Speaking about her performance, Geeta said, “People always comment that Geeta rarely performs solo, it is always group. I have a talented team of dancers and keeping them active all the time is important. And to perform for a festival like this is quite challenging and dancers were quite thrilled about it.”
Her performance was followed by a commendable Kathak recital by Deepak Maharaj, son of veteran maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj. It is interesting to note that there are a fine set of male dancers who would be enthralling the audience at the festival.
Two brilliant male dancers from Bangalore, Sathyanarayana Raju will perform Bharatanatyam on February 25, and Avijeet Das will put up the thrilling Kuchipudi dance on February 24. There is an interesting mix of varied styles like Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathak and Sattriya dances in duet presentations. Another fine Odissi dancer from New Delhi, Vinod Kevin Bachan, will perform a duet with the charming dancer Vrinda Chedda, both are the disciples of Padma Shri Ranjana Gauhar. Kathak duet by Saurav and Gaurav Mishra will be held on February 22.
Famous Mohiniyattam danseuse from New Delhi, Bharati Shivaji, and her group will perform on February 24. Mohiniyattam dancer from Baroda, Aishwariya Warier, will render an elegant recital on February 21. Other star attractions of the festival include the Manipuri group recital by the renowned Jawaharlal Nehru Manipuri Dance Academy on the last day (February 26) of the festival that also includes the powerful Bharatanatyam recital by Poornima Ashok and her group.
(The writer is a professional kuchipudi-kathakali exponent, dance teacher, choreographer and an actor.)