The 9th edition of Pragjyoti International Dance Festival started Guwahati on February 18 amidst a multifarious blend of dance forms by performers from around the world.
In a message shared by the Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the festival was hailed as a good news for the cultural world. Sonowal said, “Assam’s culture is an amalgamation of the art and culture of various tribes of communities of the state. Kalpa’s initiative to bring the various dance forms of Assam, including Sattriya, together with the various Indian and international dance forms in this festival is wonderful initiative. I hope Pragjyoti International Dance Festival will play an important role in promoting the rich cultural heritage of Assam on a global scale.”
Melodious Gayan Bayan, abhinaya and delicate mudras of Odissi, rhythmic gestures of Sattriya, intensely expressive and spiritual appeal of Balinese dance and the surreal rhythmic movements by masked performers in Bharigan– every performance enthralled the classical dance enthusiasts at Shraddhanjali Kanan in Guwahati, which witnessed the opening ceremony of the 9th Pragjyoti International Dance Festival.
Showcasing a kaleidoscope of the exponential artists, the opening day of the festival left the viewers of Guwahati spellbound with a number of captivating performances. The organizers of the festival also felicitated Padma Shri awardee and noted litterateur Eli Ahmed on the occasion.
Presented by Kalpa, a Society for Promotion of Literature, Art, Culture and Social Harmony, the Pragjyoti International Dance Festival (PIDF) is an annual classical dance extravaganza to exhibit the wide range of classical dance forms together on one platform to celebrate the rich heritage of Assam. The three-day classical dance extravaganza was held at Shraddhanjali Kanan in Guwahati on 18th and 19thFebruary and IIT Guwahati on 20th February, 2016.
This year, the festival is hosted in association with the IIT Guwahati. The event is supported by Oil India Limited, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India, Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Assam, Sangeet Natak Akademi, North-East Centre, State Bank of India, Apex Bank, Assam Gramin Vikash Bank, My Taxi, 92.7 Big FM, Smart Tank and Life’s Purple.
National award winner, Yuva Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, Anwesa Mahanta, who is the festival director at PIDF, said, “Each and every year we try to reach out to people with various dimensions and perspectives of dance. This year we are presenting a range of artistic expressions from not only India but also Southeast Asia through the Balinese artists of Indonesia. Another important performance today was the Bharigan by Rabha Community Dancers from Dudhnoi. It is so amazing to see that the audience thoroughly appreciated the varied styles of artistic representations.”
The day commenced with a harmonious Gayan Bayan by Hari Saikia Bayan and team from Bhogpur Sattra, Titabor. Next up, was a performance by one of the leading Odissi dancers in North America – Enakshi Sinha. Known for her mastery over abhinaya and laykari Enakshi’s body movements, mudras and facial expressions kept the audience mesmerized throughout her performance today. Enakshi started learning Indian classical dance from the tender age of five years. Her active performance career spans a period of over 15 years, including performances in major festivals in India, Europe and North America. She is currently the Artististic Director of Mrudanga Dance Academy, that trains new generation dancers in Windsor and Toronto.
The next performance was a beautiful Sattriya recital by the disciples of Padma Shri Nrityacharya Jatin Goswami. The group created a harmonious milieu with their synchronized and beautiful gestures and expressions.
The most awaited performances of the day were the two Balinese dance performances by artistes from Indonesia. The first performance was the Angelo Peacock Dance, a dance form depicting a male peacock bird proudly showing off the beauty of the long tail feathers and colored – iridescent while swerving – the twisted body with the intention to attract the peahen. A traditional dance form of West Java, the Peacock Dance is characterized by its colourful attire, with a sequined cape symbolizing the wings of the bird and a crown depicting the peacock head.
The second performance was Cendrawasih Dance, an art form emulating the movements of birds of paradise (name in Indonesia for birds of paradise in the genus Paradisaea Cenderawasih). The Cendrawasih Dance was choreographed to preserve and protect rare birds from extinction. This dance also shows the liveliness of the Cendrawasih bird eager to play, chasing, and its habitat.
The final performance of the day was an enchanting Bharigan performance by the Rabha community dancers from Dudhnoi. Bharigan is a folk theatre performance characterized by heavy wooden masks worn by each of the performers. Interestingly, these masks do not have an opening for the eyes and there is a person who prompts the movement of a mask-wearers from behind. The theme of the evening was Raavan Vadh from the Ramayana, but, was mostly influenced by the local customs.