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June - July 2008


“Legacy”— Pioneering work of Nrityakala The Rhythm

by Krishan Ralleigh

“Legacy” is the latest pioneering and challenging projects to be undertaken by Nrityakala The Rhythm to familiarise two types of Indian Dance, namely Manipuri, a classical dance form from the northeast part of India and dances composed on the songs, poems and stories of the writings of Nobel Laureate Tagore. (hence forth called Tagore Dance).

The project will be delivered by:

1) Research in the British Museum, The Bhavan centre and archives etc.

2) A documentary film (DVD)

3) Shows

4) A number of workshops session with accompanying demonstration targeting public audience looking specifically how they developed since their introduction in the U.K (period 1950s-2000)

5) Produce resource materials targeting the Citizenship, English and Local History national curriculum at KS3 and 4.

The Artistic Director Bithika is specialised in Manipuri dance and her passion has been to create dance theatre based on the translation on Tagore,s writing in English and Hindi e.g. “Karna-Kunti” “Trivial Loss” “Tasher Desh” etc. involving students, dancers, actors locally as wells as from India and personalities like Shabana Azmi, Farook Shaikh, Sabyasachi Chakravorty and Dhritiman Chatterjee etc.

Nrityakala The Rhythm, established in 1986, is one of the foremost proponents of Indian dance, literature, music and culture in the UK.

It was founded not only as an Institute to teach the performing arts, but also to expose the young people and the host community of England to the diversity and wealth of Indian culture and heritage.

Over the years, the Institute has produced a number of pioneering works to captivate audiences and host community of the U.K both with original and novel forms of Asian art.

Since its genesis the Organisation presented a number of productions mainly dance-theatre, pure dance, poetry symposium, art exhibition in the U.K, Belgium as well as the U.S.A.

In 2004, Nrityakala The Rhythm presented “Garland of Pearls” based on works of the first Asian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and other Asian poets at The House of Lords.

In the year 2005, involved the production of a film “At Home in London” based on the experiences of Bengalis of London, as a part of a project “A glimpse of Bengal” supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund, UK.

Rasleela by Manipuri dancers

“In Many Moods” followed in 2006, which was another novel addition to the achievements of Nrityakala The Rhythm. This new audio presentation is based on the writings in English. The CDs contains the stories “The Hungry Stones” and “Karna-Kunti”, and the poems of” Gitanjali.”

The artistes are Pt Ajay Chakravorty, Shaan, Bappi Lahiri, Soumitra Chatterjee etc participated in the rendering of the songs and recitation in English and Bengali, Hindi also in Sanskrit.

Bithika Raha (Basu) The founder and the Artistic Director observed the fact that national curriculum did not have ample scope to uphold the cultural heritage of the minority students and went on working relentlessly to fill the gap. The organisation aimed to reach the diverse community, therefore the translation works was emphasised.

Bithika Raha (Basu), Artistic Director of Nrityakala

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a small grant in 2008 following the grand success of the project “A glimpse of Bengal”. The film “At Home in London” a supposedly first oral history film was recommended for the national curriculum for the KS3 & 4 in the study of local history and citizenship, this is the recommendation of the eminent Educationist Dr Marland. Dr William Raddice of SOAS expressed intention to include the film in the M.A course (Bengali Division).

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