India's renowned dance institution Shankarananda Kalakshetra turns 40
The year-long celebrations will kick off with the premiere of a new dance production and choreography by internationally acclaimed Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi exponent, Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant.
Shankarananda Kalakshetra, a pre-eminent institution for classical dance in Hyderabad which pioneered a digital space for arts by creating a first-of-its-kind Bharatnatyam practice app, has drawn up a string of programmes to herald the 40th year of its inception.
The year-long celebrations will kick off with the premiere of a new dance production and choreography by internationally acclaimed Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi exponent Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant, the founder and artistic-director of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, on the evening of August 4 at Ravindra Bharati.
Founded in 1979, the institute, under the leadership of Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Dr. Jayant, has shaped up as a premier national institution for training in Bharatnatyam and for presenting classical dance with contemporary inputs to make the classical arts accessible to all.
“With the pursuit of excellence as its charter and a vision to spread the joy of dance and arts, Shankarananda Kalakshetra has grown into a nationally recognised performing and visual arts institution that has been a nursery to outstanding artistes,” said Dr. Jayant, who is also a writer, an inspirational TED speaker and a pioneering arts entrepreneur.
“What gives us immense pleasure is that we have been providing training and opportunities in dance to many underprivileged children through our outreach programmes and sharing thereby the power of the arts in one’s life,” she noted.
The institution imparts skills to students in Bharatnatyam, music, Yoga, Kalari, Nattuvangam, costume, stage, and sound & light techniques, thus providing a holistic training in the arts.
“Shankarananda Kalakshetra is particularly known for exacting standards, discipline, body kinetics, group dynamics and aesthetic subtlety. Students here learn to balance the traditional with the modern elements of dance,” said Dr Jayant, who has performed across the globe.
Over 2,000 students have so far been trained in dance here and the institution has covered itself with glory by garnering prizes and accolades for its performers and teachers. Students are recipients of Junior and Senior National Scholarships for dance and are empanelled artists on Doordarshan, ICCR, and Union Ministry of Culture.
The performing ensemble of Shankarananda Kalakshetra, known for its intricate choreography and artistic brilliance, has performed at many national and international festivals, earning critical acclaim.
“Dance productions of the institution have always been path-breaking, bringing India’s cultural and artistic inheritance to the modern audience through the visual imagery of dance. Over the last four decades it has produced and presented 25 critically acclaimed dance productions, spanning mythologies, historical chronicles, gender issues, poetry, abstraction, philosophy and humour,” she said.
Sri Krishnam VandeJagadgurum (1987), Buddham Saranam Gachchami (1995), Navarasa - Expressions of Life (2003), Mohana.. Krishna beckons (2005), Darshanam – An ode to the eye (2005), ‘Sri Rama Namam – Entha Ruchi Ra’ ( 2007), Taalapatra - Hymns from the Hills (2010), Shringara Darpanam (2011), Kavyanjali – An Ode to Gurudev ( 2012), SRI –The Goddess Within ( 2013), and Tales from the Bull and the Tiger (2018) explore traditional concepts.
On the other hand, productions like Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1991), What About Me (1999) and Dancing Tales…. Panchatantra (2006) brought to the stage contemporary and socially relevant issues.
A major achievement of the institution came in 2017 when it created Natyarambha (www.natyarambha.com), a trendsetting practice app providing online personal dance coaching for Bharatnatyam that is now followed by students, professionals and gurus across the world.
It has contributed immensely to dance scholarship and dance academia by organising conferences and festivals at leading universities, bringing out national publications and fostering an audience for art through presentations and lectures.
“Shankarananda Kalakshetra is an oasis of classical arts, engaging in every aspect of creative endeavour, and its journey through the last four decades has been an absolutely exhilarating experience. We look forward to continuing to serve society through the arts,” Dr Jayant said.