Cultural resonance – Manjari Sinha ji covers SPANDAN in her Statesman column

Manjari Sinha
| 02 June, 2016


The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) celebrated Africa Day on 26 May at the Azad Bhavan Auditorium. The theme India-Africa: Bound Together highlighted Africa’s diversity, success, economic potential and cultural resonance with India. The celebration comprised a panel discussion, a week-long exhibition of African costumes, paintings and artefacts, a food festival of Afican cuisine and a cultural programme.

The cultural programme opened with lively songs by the Capital City Minstrels, New Delhi, but the talented troupe from the Kingdom of Lesotho stole the show with the multi-talented African ensemble Likakapa Africa, which literally means The Legends or Crème de la crème. The lively performances by the renowned ensemble were a blend of Famo Music, Afro-Jazz, Hip Hop; that established an instant rapport with the audience. Unable to resist the vibrant rhythm and the contagious zest of the African music and dance, many were seen whistling and dancing in front of the stage.

Likakapa had two major Famo artists Rabots’o le Semanyane and Lebohang Lets’ohla, who led most of the songs backed by Tom Rakoti, the Afro-Jazz artist, and Molibeli Mokake who was both a Hip-Hop performer and a Rapper. The ensemble presented the unique stylistic music and dance, commonly seen in the streets of major towns and villages of Lesotho.

The Spandan-World Dance Evening at the India Habitat Centre the same evening, was the enthusiastic culmination of  a month long Festival of the Performing Arts and an ambitious exhibition of dance photographs, curated by R Srinivasan in the open spaces of the Habitat World on the occasion of the World Dance Day. 

 Celebrating the infinite potential in umpteen varieties of dance forms, Spandan showcased a spectacular melange of dance forms from Indian classical dances like Odissi by Arushi Mudgal, Bharatanatyam by Suhail Bhan and Kathak by Irina from Russia to contemporary dance by Neha Sharma of Sadhya, Jazz by Danceworx, Hip-Hop by the Quake Crew, Flow Art by Eshna Kutty, Tajik dance by Naseeba from Tajikistan and a mesmerising Folk Fusion by Nitisha Nanda from Banjara. The over-packed Stein Auditorium resounded with thunderous applause at the end of this extravaganza of dance, conceived by R Srinivasan of Spandan, created by Indira Ganesh and anchored by their 13-year-old talented daughter Mallika. 

Humkadam-2016 by Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio.

Rachana Yadav Kathak Studio presented Navagraha for their annual event Humkadam-2016, at the Epicentre. Based on the Hindu astrological science that says the nine celestial bodies, or Navagrahas, affect our character with their typical characteristics, when close to us, Rachana most imaginatively conceived and choreographed Navagraha, incorporating the entire repertoire of Kathak  through different groups of students portraying different Grahas, according to the characteristics of these Grahas matching the maturity or the age group of her students.

Opening with Navagraha Stuti, an ode to the nine celestial bodies, the programme started with the youngest age group, the twinkling stars, in “Jagmag deep jale…” with the basic Hastakas and simple Tode Tukde based on Sargam.

Navagraha took off with Brihaspati, the Graha for knowledge and longevity, with Guru Vandana. Venus, that stands for the feminine grace, was presented next, by a young adult batch dressed like delicate “Abhisarika Nayikas” on Shyam Kalyan Bandish “Sundar sej sanvar ke…”, interspersed with  Aamad, Tode, Tukde, Parans and Chakkardars…et al.

Mercury was depicted with Sargams in Raga Yaman; Mangal Graha had Krishna Arjun Samvad with the dancers dressed in the energetic colour red; the Shani or Saturn had the impressive Malkauns Tarana; and Rahu-Ketu portrayed by twin sisters was applauded for their remarkable pirouettes. Surya and Chandra, the climax, were danced respectively by Rachna’s senior-most students. Surya had Pramelu, Paran and the impressive foot-work in the challenging Tala Dhamaar and Chandra was depicted through a Ghazal “Pighal raha hai Chaand…”, as an Abhinaya piece, completing Kathak in its entirety.  Rachana’s imaginative choreography was enhanced with the most appropriate music composed by Samiullah Khan.



In Media : SPANDAN Festival of Performing Art 2016

SPANDAN festival of performing Arts 2016 found a few mentions in the media and online world. A few more good articles are expected. I shall keep updating this post.

On the day of “Facilitating the Living legends” along with Nartanam, THE HINDU, listed in the happenings dairy


Distinguished dance critic, Smt Manjari Sinha covered SPANDAN in her weekly column World Dance Day, in STATESMAN on May 12, 2016

Statesman covers SPANDAN Fest of performing Arts

STATESMAN regular online version

STATESMAN epaper version

The May calendar on Narthaki mentions SPANDAN

BuzzInTown lists WORLD DANCE EVENING of MAY 26

Blog of PRIYALASYA has the invites

SPANDAN 2015, the festival of infinity, recordings of the live show on Rainbow FM – 102.6

SPANDAN 2015 got a surprise call from Rainbow FM, to cover the photography exhibition as part of their program – ROAD SHOW. I was delighted to invite RJ Rajesh to the exhibition.

We all were thinking of how would the live program be? I have been part of a few call in programs on various FM Channels, sitting behind the large tech consoles that enables an RJ to manage the whole show, taking the calls, responding to it with the panelist and selecting the songs to play etc.

In this case, Rajesh landed just a couple of minutes before the start and made us wonder whether, at all we are going to have the show. In no time, realized that the RJ at the studio will call on his mobile to do the entire Road Show.

While I took out my mobile to record while the interviews are on, I asked my ‘rath sarathi’, Vishal to take my dictaphone and sit in the car, tune in Rainbow FM and record. Meanwhile Inni flashed his DSLR and recorded the interviews. Here are the versions…

Dictaphone version of the show as heard on the radio…

Podcast Hosting – Listen Audio Files – SPANDAN 2015 on Rainbow FM R…

The Video of the segments of interactions that we recorded on INNI’s DLSR. The order of recordings are, Sreeni, Inni Singh and Prasad Siddhanthi

In the end, I got more ideas about being ready for the next show!

SPANDAN’s second edition from April 25th-May 5th – Sreeni humbly invites each one of you…


Dear Gurus and Friends,

It gives me immense pleasure to invite each one of you to SPANDAN 2014, celebrating the SPirit of DANce, paying our humble tributes to the SPAN of world DANce!

Starting on 25th of April 2014, the dance photography exhibition in the open spaces of IHC will go on for ten days and culminates with the Festival evening that celebrates the SPIRIT OF WORLD DANCE on May 5th, with a bouquet of performances SPANNING THE WORLD DANCE FORMS.


SPANDAN 2014 – World Dance photography Exhibition : April 25-May 05, 2014

We are immensely privileged to have the participation of the following brilliant photographers who are contributing immensely to the cause of WORLD DANCE FORMS. I humbly thank each one of them… (if any names missed, I apologize. Kindly draw my attention. Thanks)

– Abhijith Madhukar
– Avinash Pasricha
– Edina
– Giridhar Chandrasekhar
– Hareesh Melayil
– Hareesh Namboothri
– Inni Singh
– Jerome Calyster
– Jeyakumar Sathyamoorthy
– Karthik Siva
– Keerthi Amit
– KP Sreehari
– Mamta Diman
– Mohit Abrol
– Navneet Kaur Ahuja
– Prasad Siddhanthi
– Rajyasree Ghosh Tinni
– Ramesh Lalvani
– Rijil KS
– Ruben Lozano Garcia
– R. Sreenivasan
– Rumeli Datta Mazumdar Dawn
– Sanjay Yadav
– Shankar Bhattacharyya
– Suchit Nanda
– Sugeeth Krishna
– Sunny Lamba
– Vinu Nair
– Vj Renju

SPANDAN 2014 – World Dance Evening : May 05, 2014. 7:00pm

We are delighted to have the following INSPIRING ARTISTS and TALENTS, enriching the WORLD DANCE Constellation with their MESMERIZING PERFORMANCES

– Kathak : Astha Dixit, the performance dedicated to Sufism
– Sattriya: Anwesa Mahanta
– Bharatanatyam: Emerging Dancers, Natya Vriksha; Disciples of Guru Geeta Chandran

awaiting their final world –

– Chhau : a spirited performance encompassing the three forms of Chhau
– WORLD Dance : Latino/Spanish forms
– World FOLK Dance : European
– WORLD Dance : a confluence of Middle-eastern, Latin and American free dance forms

LAST Year over 7000 visitors graced the exhibition and the dance evening ran a packed overflowing house at STEIN Auditoium, IHC.

Kindly check the YOUTUBE link for SPANDAN 2013 edition –

Kindly check the FLICKR collection for all dimensions of the festival –

LOOKING FORWARD to seeing you all at the exhibition and the dance evening.


——————–For the benefit all those participating or keen, I have the left the ‘invitation note”, here under ——



In the last edition of 2013 of SPANDAN, I initiated with my own photographs for want of time; In this years edition I wish to have the best from around the world, through what people call CLOUND SOURCING !
Last year we had 16 panels, each devoted to a dance form –

– Eight Classical forms as noted by SNA –
– Bharatanatyam,
– Kathak,
– Odissi,
– Kathakali,
– Mohiniyattam,
– Kuchipudi,
– Manipuri,
– Sattriya
– A panel on Martial art/FOLK dance forms of immense energy : Chhau, Bhangra, Garba,…
– A contemporary Dance Panel- A Panel of captures in the open spaces
– JOURNEY OF Infinity – portraying the immense years of dedicated effort in excelling in the world space

– FAR eastern panel with Korean, Japan and Chinese forms
– BALLET from Russian and European geography
– FREE Dance from around the World and India
– LATIN / SPANISH Dance forms

I humbly invite all DANCE PHOTOGRAPHY ENTHUSIASTS to submit their TWO best photographs from their captures. Let it span the dance forms from around the world.


SPANDAN may travel to Chennai in JUNE for SPICMACAY International convention at IIT CHENNAI, and possibly to LONDON for festival of Indian DANCE and MUSIC in JULY.


a. UPLOAD your best two in the group DANCE PHOTOGRPHY (on FB), the RAW Format of the capture should be there with you for later purpose if selected (needed for printing large versions). Kindly give details of the capture
– Dancer
– Dance Form
– Festival, where it has been captured, with dates

b. clearly LABEL the posting as FOR SPANDAN 2014. PHOTO 1 and PHOTO 2. If at all you have to write your name/signature on the photo, let it be very discreet on a margin

c. LAST DATE OF SUBMISSION is March 28, 2014 11:59 pm


d. THE DECISION OF THE SELECTION COMMITTEE comprising eminent Dance photographers, critiques and dancers IS FINAL

e. IF Selected, will be asked to send the RAW FORMAT of the same by email.

f. THE SELECTED works will become part of a classified panel and credits will be given. This is my effort in showcasing the brilliance in the dance photography space and the contribution each one is making for furthering the cause of the dance forms.


I WISH TO MAKE THIS FESTIVAL, A FESTIVAL OF EVERY DANCE LOVER. I am investing immensely from my own pocket to showcase, hence WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PAY anything for your contribution, apart from making your work known to connoisseurs and lovers of dance. (last year over 7000 people visited the exhibition)


I ADMIT that I MAY RECOUP the cost incurred for the exhibition displays – printing, framing, logistics of taking the exhibition around – by selling the works proactively this time. SOLD or UNSOLD, I shall intimate you.

IF any works remain unsold, and you want your work back at the end of the exhibitions, then the costs incurred, (calculated by the size and kind of prints/transportation/logistics etc) will have to be paid! It will go into a corpus for future, and encourages me to keep going on this path of promoting brilliance. I HOPE YOU UNDERSTAND MY SPIRIT and intention. I AM SURE YOU WILL HELP ME


SPANDAN : curtain raiser on Rajya Sabha TV and Complete recordings

The Curtain Raiser of SPANDAN introducing the three dancers – Nikolina, Carolina and Nitisha Nanda appeared on Rajya Sabha TV. The complete program is scheduled to come any time in the near future.

If you wish to watch, here they are, as captured by my film team –

Nikolina’s Bharatanatyam – Bho Shambho

Carolina’s Chau – Nataraja

Nitisha’s Odissi – Jayadeva’s Shiva Stuthi

Quincy Kendll Charles’ Kathak – Taal Damaar

Paola Santa Cruz’s Flamenco

Nikolina’s Ballet

Carolina’s Columbian Cumbria dance

Nitisha’s Egyptian Classical Belly dance

The first segment of the SPANDAN world dance evening had an interactive session with Eminent photographer Shri Avinash Pasricha anchored by Mrs Leela Venkataraman, eminent dance critic and Mrs Geeta Chandran, celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer.

I loved conceiving this unique festival and bringing it to you. Looking forward to bettering it every year. Kindly leave your feedback so as to help me.

Love and regards.

SPANDAN featured in the THE HINDU this friday – ‘Everything thrown in the mix’ by Mrs Leela Venkataraman

Cross-genre performances and a discussion on classical dance’s new contexts marked World Dance Day

World Dance Day, little known till just a few years ago, has today assumed a prominent presence with celebrations across the board featuring cross-cultural dance events. Natya Vriksha’s annual Young Dancers’ Festival for this occasion had its open-house seminar built round the theme of “What is classical anymore?” with Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan chairing the session and summing up with her keynote address. Rajiv Chandran in his introduction referred to the challenges in India’s classical arts, evolving for years in a cyclical society, now confronted with a linearity where the scramble for change and being different have cut into the in-depth approach required in these art forms.

Dancer-teacher Jamuna Krishnan talked of how Bharatanatyam had been preserved for years — with the firm realisation that one cannot play with the grammar of the form. The itemised approach today with the margam inertia has forgotten that the prana of the dance has to be kept intact. Manipuri guru Singhajit Singh bemoaned the exhibitionistic nature of performance art, which was losing the meditative strength of forms like Nata Sankirtan, the very soul of classical Manipuri. Geeta Chandran, founder president of Natya Vriksha, wondered if in a climate where the economics of dance are skewed, she could in all fairness ask even her really talented students to take up dance as a fulltime career. The intelligent and articulate young dancers Anvesha Mahanta (Sattriya dancer, disciple of Ghanakant Bora), Sneha Chakradhar (disciple of Geeta Chandran) and Swati Sinha (disciple of Kathak guru Rajendra Gangani), very briefly voiced the challenges of making their respective classical dance forms relevant to the compulsions of the present, rather than what constituted classical dance. Kapila Vatsyayan in her brief address referring to the dialectics between performers and audience in a changing spatial-cultural context, maintained that the ultimate decision remained with the dancer not to make compromises with the classical dance form and to aim at “transcending the body through the body” — reaching out for the formless through the form. Varied responses from the audience made for a lively session. That the grammar and rigour of classical dance and the body as instrument were only means to an end — beyond the individual and market concerns — needed to be understood.

Kalamandalam Sangeeth Chakyar’s Koodiyattam excerpt showing Ravana, from “Torana Yuddham”, was an eye-opener in the Nirvahanam sequence, where Ravana reminisces on his encounter with Shiva and his lifting of Mount Kailash, with a frightened Parvati, setting aside her jealousy of Ganga lodged in Shiva’s locks, running to Shiva for protection — bringing to a happy end the misunderstanding between the divine couple. Parvati’s suspicious queries about tiny strands of hair, of a pair of eyes, of eyebrows, of breasts, are sought to be explained away by Shiva as a swarm of bees, as darting fish, as waves in water, and as a pair of chakravaka birds, respectively. Brilliant in the alternate roles of Shiva and Parvati in the narrative, Sangeeth Chakyar’s abhinaya prowess, heightened by the bhav-packed resonance of the mizhavu with the percussionists seated behind him, made for a rare treat. The promising artiste was greeted with standing applause at the finish.

Swati Sinha’s Kathak, after a vibrant Durga stuti showing “Ashtabhujadharini Ambai”’ and “Vrindavasini”, proceeded to a fine Dhamar presentation, where authoritative precision kept pace with grace. The crazy movement of the bols ‘tithigata gadigina dha’ in the paran, the bedam tihai, and later the Holi gat in drut laya with a kavit were all gems of virtuosity with sensuous appeal. In “Aaj rakho mori laaj Keshav”, introduced as Guru Rajendra Gangani’s poetry, in which the Draupadi vastrapaharan episode became a metaphor for the assault on women today, the dancer was convincing. But the unimaginative music needs to evolve.

At the Azad Bhavan, Shovana Narayan’s Asavari celebrated World Dance Day with her students in an Ashta Nayika presentation visualised with vasakasajja set to seven matras, virahotkanthita in nine matras, swaadheenapatika in 10 matras, kalahantarita in 11, khandita in 12, vipralabdha in 13and proshitapatika in 16 matras. The interpretative passages were generously interspersed with nritta sequences, performed with joy and clean profile by the disciples. The music, more in the ghazal freewheeling mode, had mishra ragas. The abhinaya of the students needs to evolve. For instance, the khandita in “Kaheko mere ghar aye ho” in Sohini needed more anger along with the anguish.

Rushing across from Azad Bhavan to the India Habitat Centre, one caught the last half hour of Shallu Jindal’s high-profile Kuchipudi performance for a packed auditorium. Shallu’s nritta in the tarangam, woven into the finale of the tarana in Natabhairavi composed by the late Ravi Shankar, was sufficient proof of a finished dancer, the rhythmic combinations in the plate dance spelt out with clarity and accuracy. She is emerging as one of the prime disciples of the Reddys. Aditi Shelva, with her Hindustani training, sang the tarana with melodious control. Pranab Joshi on tabla, Annadorai on violin, Javed Khan on sitar and Bhasker Rao on mridangam, with Kaushalya Reddy’s nattuvangam, combined well.

Cross-cultural celebration

Symbolising the World Dance Day spirit in all its cross-cultural bonhomie was “Spandan” at India Habitat Centre, visualised by R. Sreenivasan, co-founder of Career Launcher. Starting with “Dance Through My Lens”, an interaction with photographer Avinash Pasricha, the evening presented an entertaining blend of dances. Along with Swami Dayanand Saraswati’s “Bho Shambho” in Revati presented in Bharatanatyam with the sculptured majesty of frozen stances, Nicolina Nicoleski from Croatia also presented with grace a ballet “Lakme” based on music by French composer Leodibes. A disciple of Mayurbhanj Chhau guru Janmejay Sai Babu, Columbian Carolina Prada’s “Nataraj” was a clean winner. With its demanding balance in one-legged stances, including the Nagabandha freeze, movement rendered at a very slow pace, the performance saw the dancer highlight with crystal clarity the opposing tranquil and tandav manifestations of the deity — one benign and the other evil-destroying. The same dancer later presented a Columbian folk dance “Cumbia” with a partner, the frilled swirling skirt creating entertaining geometry, followed by a sword play of coffee planters, a dandia-cum-fencing piece danced with sticks. Nitisha Nanda first presented an Odissi rendition based on Ravana’s Shiva Stotram (the music in a chanted recitation in strong metre) done with clean technique and expressional enthusiasm, but with a tendency for foot contact fractionally faster than what the music warranted. She later went on to present superb belly dancing! A disciple of Meher Mallik, Nitisha, undoubtedly gifted, must take care to preserve the sanctity of the two very different movement forms in their own respective spheres. Paola Santa Cruz presented Flamenco ‘Salon’ with plaintive sadness and lively Tan, concluding with Buleria with a group, providing a glimpse of the exuberant participation, with syncopated hand clapping. Quincy Kendell Charles from Trinidad and Tobago, now under the training of Prerana Shrimali, the Kathak dancer-teacher, gave an immaculate presentation of Dhamar, the 14-matra cycle both in footwork patterns and bandishes very competently rendered. With a packed Stein auditorium, the cosmopolitan audience encouraging every move, the evening was a great success.

SPANDAN – Celebration of Human Spirit – Sreeni’s Dance Photography Exhibition at IHC, New Delhi

Sreeni mounted 16 installations of world dance compilations as a tribute to the human spirit, in the form of dance. It is a celebration of the infinite potential every human has.

The exhibition was in the open spaces of India Habitat Centre, Lodhi road, Delhi. The 10 day exhibition attracted almost 5000 visitors; the evening of world dance on May 3rd witnessed packed stein auditorium with five brilliant dancers (Nikolina Nikoleski, Carolina Prada, Nitisha Nanda, Quincy Kendell Charles, Paola Santa Cruz) performing 8 dance forms.

The evening started with a short session as a tribute to the celebrated Dance Photographer Mr. Avinash Pasricha who was in an interaction with renowned Dance Critic Mrs Leela Venkataraman and Eminent Bharatanatyam Exponent Ms Geeta Chandran

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