Vol. 5 Num 926 Sat. January 06, 2007  

Nrityadhara: A kaleidoscopic journey

The camaraderie between the five dan-cers was obvious as they engaged in bantering and even burst into a patriotic song Dhano Dhanya Pushpo Bhora. The dancers shared their experiences of last year and talked about their plans for the future. Though they are exponents of different genres and run their own dance schools and groups, they share a link as founder members of Nrityadhara, a premier institute of leading dance artistes of the country. The organisation is committed to explore and revive the dance heritage of Bengal.

Here's what the dancers had to say:

Minu Haque (Odissi), convenor of Nrityadhara and choreographer and teacher of Pallavi (Indian classical dance school):

The uncertain political situation has thrown a damper on Nritydhara's programmes. Though our individual organisations have staged dance performances, we have had to alter our schedule. For instance, we had thought of a dance festival but had to change the plan because of the prevailing scenario in the country.

As for this year, we plan a three-day festival to coincide with our Foundation Day Another dance drama on the anvil is Hajartarer Beena, based on Kazi Nazrul Islam's life. Then there is a piece based on a Selim Al Deen play, Usha Utshab, which depicts the life of the Garos. There is also a possibility that we may stage Tagore's dance drama Bhanu Singher Padabali.

Dipa Khondoker (folk and creative), executive director of Dibya Cultural Group and performer, teacher and dance director at Shilpakala Academy:

Nrityadhara's six members have different styles but we come together in a blend. I also have social commitment. I teach underprivileged and differently-abled children at Swid Bangladesh. In Dibya I also teach dance free of cost for such children. Altogether I have 50 disadvantaged and differently-abled children. Nrityadhara is a patron for this category.

Through my dance group I teach children afflicted by HIV/AIDS. I deal closely with an HIV/AIDS organisation called Bandhu Social Welfare Society mainly in folk. I accompanied several Bangladeshi dance artistes.

The members of Nritydhara have a mutual plan. Now on the anvil is three dance dramas on Nrityadhara's Foundation Day.

Anisul Islam Hero (Bharatnatyam and modern dance), director of Srishti Cultural Centre:

As chairperson of Bandhu, an NGO, I spearhead the organisation's HIV/AIDS prevention programme. Bandhu has called on Dipa to train its volunteers. This is an ongoing programme. On the cards for Nrityadhara and Bandhu is a fund raising endeavour on January 14.

As for the coming year, a lot depends on the political situation and we will chalk out plans after the elections.

Tamanna Rahman (Manipuri), founder-director of Nrityam Dance School:

Looking to the future, we at Nrityadhara want to take up a research project to determine our existing dance heritage. As is obvious many of our traditional and unique dance forms have vanished over a passage of time. However, not much research has gone into phenomenon. This research endeavour will take us to different locations and enable us to study indigenous dance forms such as Bou and Dhamail (Sylhet region), Jari (northern region; predominantly in Mymensingh area) and many others.

When it comes to Nrityam, we plan to choreograph a children's production. Also on the cards are workshops outside Dhaka to places such as Chandpur, Bogra and Chittagong. On another front, I plan to take our Manipuri dance repertoire to Rajshahi and other places. This will popularise the dance form out of Dhaka and is a part of an ongoing programme, which began in 2001.

Munmun Ahmed (Kathak), principal of Rewaz Performers' School:

Because of personal problems I have had to lie low over the last year. However, I did perform at several functions. For the new year, Rewaz will stage a programme at Shilpakala Academy. This is a fund-raising endeavour for my brother who has lost both his kidneys. Also we -- four of my students, singer Sujit Mustafa and I -- will have a programme in Glasgow, Scotland, early this year.

Clockwise (from centre-back row): Anisul Islam Hero, Dipa Khondoker, Munmun Ahmed, Minu Haque and Tamanna Rahman. PHOTO: STAR