Asian Music and Dance

Korzo Indian Dance Festival

The festival, extended this year to two weeks, featured emerging artists as well as established performers like Aditi Mangaldas, Kapila Venu and the Sutra Dance Theatre; and this time there were also some remarkable singers.

Heritage: breakdance infused with vedas

This style of dance is probably the last thing one would expect at the India Dance Festival, but solo dancer and choreographer Shailesh Bahoran’s work fits like a glove. His haunting and tender solo Heritage was a mix of breakdance, poppin ‘n’ lockin and hip-hop, choreographed to the music from the touching movie Bombay. Shailesh’s moves are often compared to the classical Indian dance styles because of the use of poses, gestures and isolations. “That’s not something I have been looking for,” he says, “it’s just something which has been there all the time.” His Hindustani roots, including the vedas, are an omnipresent source for his creations.

The Tightrope Walker

When the piece ended, an uncomfortable silence filled the hall before one dared to applaud. The audience had been drawn into the pain of the work. Solo dancer Sooraj Subramaniam (formerly of Sutra Dance Theatre) sat on a table reading from slips of paper – “it is not good enough”, “I am watching”. 

The Tightrope Walker, choreographed by Kalpana Raghuraman, was about growing up within the restrictions of a shame-oriented culture. Spectators familiar with bharatanatyam, odissi or kathak will have recognised steps and poses, mudras and adavus used in several contemporary angles; but in this piece that was all secondary. Kalpana had asked Sooraj to “feel what you dance and not just do the movements. Dance styles are just languages to express yourself.”

A rare occasion in Sharad 

Months before the performance by Holland’s first Hindustani community choir the Korzo Theater building was humming with sounds of mantras and upbeat taranas. The choir brought together about thirty men and women who mostly sing as solo artists, with roots in Surinam, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Holland. American composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran guided the group during the first rehearsals along the path to this new experience. He has done it before. In Toronto, Washington and a few other American cities he has established community choirs, winning silver medals with the Cincinnati Indian Community Choir at the seventh World Choir Games.

Most of the newly-initiated choir members were familiar with some of the traditional compositions and the ones who weren’t were given a hand by the singers Shalini Bholasing and Madhu Lalbahadoersing when Kanniks was back in the USA. Both singers already have a name in Holland, although they are both still at the conservatorium. 

The cast of the performance also included dancer Revanta Sarabhai and his formation and kathak dancers Hari and Chethana. Kanniks had brought his daughter Vidita over to support the solo section. Her amazing voice touched people instantly; some of them even started to cry. Not only for the Hindustani community choir but also for the vocalists Madhu, Shalini and Vidita, an exciting future lies ahead. It is rumoured that the choir is going to attend the tenth World Choir Games in Riga. 


For many years Holland has been concerned with the hybrid development of bharatanatyam. This India Dance Festival it was time for strictly bharatanatyam. The three Dutch bharatanatyam dancers, Anuradha Pancham, Indu Panday and Usha Kanagasabai are well trained in nritta as well as in natya

Anuradha, the strongest dancer of the programme, featured in an entertaining javeli on a woman who does not want to listen to the promises of her beloved any more. Her presentation drew glances of recognition amongs the audience. She brought the character to life and even inexperienced bharatanatyam spectators were able to follow every detail of the story. 

Indu, strong in nritta, performed a lullaby in which she depicted a mother trying to shush her baby boy to sleep. The timing was perfect, and she kept the attention of the audience from beginning to end, leaving them moved by the tenderness. 

Usha depicted a rasika who begs a bird to ask Lord Murugan to redeem his promise to return to her. She tries not to be annoyed but subtle indications show that she is still waiting for him to come.

The choreography showed beautiful patterns and use of floor space in which solos, duets and group alternated. With her skills in contemporary choreography Kalpana has reset the standards of bharatanatyam in The Netherlands.



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