Dance that bridges cultures

In the upcoming Japanese Cultural Festival, five Japanese expatriots will perform Indian classical dance.

The adage ‘East meets West’ has never been more true of late and this weekend, the Japanese Consulate, in association with ABK-AOTS Dosokai, Chennai, will be hosting their annual cultural festival. But, this year is going to be like never before! Five Japanese dancers, experts in their field, will be sharing the stage for an Indian classical performance titled Night of Jasmine — featuring the dance forms of Kathak, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam. “It’s the first time we have planned such an event — Japanese artists who have learnt Indian classical dance for years, together on one stage,” says Junichi Fukao, researcher and advisor at the Japanese Consulate.

The dancers who will be performing are Keiko Watanabe (Kuchipudi), Tomiko Daya (Bharatanatyam), Kimiko Yanadiga (Odissi), Masako Sato (Kathak) and Keiko Okano (Mohiniyattam). But, bringing together five international artistes was a daunting task, and all the credit goes to Keiko Watanabe, a familiar face in Chennai. The Kuchipudi exponent has learnt under many gurus like Sathyapriya Ramana and Sailaja, Uma Muralikrishna, and is currently learning under Padmavani and Jaikishore Mosalikanti. Keiko went on to establish her own dance school in Tokyo, dividing her time between India and her home-country.

“The name Night of Jasmine is because, years ago, when I started learning Kuchipudi and participated in kutcheris, my memories were filled with the scent of jasmine in the air! The flowers adorned everyone’s heads, and that thought stayed with me for years to come and now, I can express it,” muses Keiko. Talking about how she brought the artistes together, she says — “Being a part of the Indian classical dance culture in Japan, I know all the dancers quite well. They are the top-ranking artists in the field in Japan, and we will be exploring the style, footwork and expression that make these classical dances what they are.”

The festival, which is happening between February 26 and 28 will also host Ikebana and Hina doll exhibitions along with Kendo demonstrations and more. But Night of Jasmine has us all excited, and we’re already crossing off the dates on our calendar!

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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