Samarpana 2013: The Asian Festival of Classical Dance

306761_439624769410577_354002942_nOn Friday evening, I attended “Dhruv Gati,” the opening performance of Samparna 2013: The Asian Festival of Classical Dance. “Dhruv Gati” by the Gundecha Brothers and Kadamb featured a coming together of two Indian performing arts’ traditions that are very dear to my heart: Dhrupad and Kathak.

Dhrupad is an ancient, but not widely popular, vocal genre of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music. Thankfully, my musically-minded parents introduced me to all sorts of music when I was a child, including this restrained, meditative, devotional tradition. The Gundecha brothers, Umakant Gundecha and Ramakant Gundecha, are one of the genre’s leading exponents.

Kathak, a classical Indian dance from North India, emphasizes vigorous rhythmic footwork. I spent several years studying this traditional art, both in the United States and in Singapore. Kumudini Lakhia is a pioneering figure in the Indian contemporary dance movement and her works set in motion what is known now as contemporary Kathak. She founded Kadamb Center of Dance and Music in Ahmadabad, Gujarat in 1967.

Yesterday’s performance was simply superlative. It was delicate and graceful and electrifying and soul-stirring. I’ve really run out of adjectives to describe how moved I was by this performance. It was such a privilege to witness the first-ever collaboration of these artists in a relatively intimate setting.

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Samparna 2013 concludes on Sunday with two performances that I’m also keen to see: “Feathered Fables,” a showcase of contemporary, ballet, and Bharatanatyam performed by Singapore dance schools NUS Dance Ensemble, Academie Du Danse, and Shruti Laya School of Dance and “Chitra: A Kuchipudi Expression of Tagore” by Amrita Lahiri.