New Delhi Among the many firsts this year, Republic Day 2022 will not see participation of school children in the usual awe-inspiring annual parade at Rajpath. Instead, as you stay glued to your TV sets to view the spectacle on the ceremonial boulevard, get set to witness around 500 young dancers, from across the country, who will get together to showcase a gamut of dance forms — including Giddha (Punjab), Maharashtra’s martial arts, Manipuri from the Northeast, Kathakali (Kerala), and Bharatanatyam (Tamil Nadu). To be performed in a synchronised choreography, this recital will mark the 75 glorious years of India’s independence as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
Rehearsing as part of 36 teams that won the pan India Vande Bharatam dance competition, these enthusiastic troupes comprising students and young professionals are presently practising at Indira Gandhi Stadium. “We are rehearsing to perform semi-classical. I’m learning Kathak since six years, and so happy that while being a student I’ve got a chance to travel to Delhi to perform at such a platform. Everyone here speaks a different language and comes from a different culture. There’s lots to learn, and as an artiste I’m so grateful to be able perform for my country,” says Kathak dancer Heta Patil, a student of MBA (Finance) from Surat, Gujarat.
Kolhapur (Maharashtra) based BSc student Prathmesh Patil, spins a martial pash (chakra), quite effortlessly, as part of the folk segment of the 12-minute choreography. “Back home, we practice for two hours daily. We have struggled a lot and it’s great to be at the national stage today. No other group in Kolhapur has reached this level, and we feel humne Kolhapur ko aur apni mitti ko proud kiya hai,” says Patil. And 26-year-old Abhinav Mangure, who works in a Pune-based company, adds, “Humare group mein sab students ya young working professionals hain. Dance is our passion and I’m happy to bring the native martial art form of Mardani Khel Yuddh Kala to a parade that we have all been watching since our childhood.”
“We watched the parade on television, and it’s wonderful that we are going to perform in the Republic Day parade. It’s a big boost to our confidence as budding artistes,” says Chennai-based Bharatanatyam dancer and college student Smriti Venkatesh.
Kathak exponent Rani Khanam, who is one of the four choreographers appointed to curate the recital, says, “The opening segment will involve big props and elephants. Our theme concept is Unity in Diversity and Naya Bharat. We are trying to connect all regions from north to south, and trying to showcase the spirituality of Buddhism with Hinduism. We are showing colours, customs, and culture of India through our dance. The expressions and rituals of each group are different, yet so vibrant.”
“In the end, we will create a formation in which the dancers will resemble the feathers of the peacock, our national bird,” says Maitreyee Pahari, Kathak and Manipuri exponent. And Santosh Nair, who has formal training in Kathakali and Chhau and choreographs contemporary dance as well, shares, “The idea is to show our diverse culture, so it’s a beautiful idea to have a mix and match of each group. We are showcasing our progressive and modern India and the theme of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The buzzword now is youth, and this is a good way to bring forth the young artistic talent on the national stage.”
Author tweets @siddhijainn