Cultural diversity a big edge: Bharatnatyam dancer

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Rukmini Chatterjee

New Delhi– Bharatnatyam dancer Rukmini Chatterjee, who has performed globally and has lived in Paris for 25 years, feels that acquaintance with diverse cultures “gives us a big edge over others”. She is curating ‘Connections’, a festival which hosts Chinese dancers with French jazz musicians and opens on Friday.

The three-day international performing arts festival is being held at the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts (SRCPA). It is hosting the Remi Panossian Jazz Trio and performers from the Beijing Dance Academy.

Asked about the converging cultures of the world, the choreographer who trained under Mrinalini Sarabhai, said: “It should be an essential part of people’s lives today since we live in a knowledge economy and a global village”.

“My artistic path for the past 28 years has been that of bringing cultures together on the same stage, crossing borders of all sorts, and getting artists and art forms from across the globe to dialogue,” Chatterjee told IANS in an email.

“Knowing and understanding other cultures gives us a big edge over others, by widening our horizons and making us much more capable of dealing with global situations, psychologies, economies and many other domains,” she added.

Her leitmotif for the Connections festival, since its inception in 2014, has been selecting performances that touch the hearts and minds of people.

Lined up this year is the Beijing Dance Academy, whose aesthetics come from their martial arts, acrobatics, ancient poetry, painting and drama, and who are performing for the first time in India.

As per the organisers, some of the dances have been created by the choreographer of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony. “Our endeavour has been to bridge the gap between the old and the new by building bridges between our ancient culture and our modern audiences,” they told IANS.

Chatterjee, with her vast repertoire of international performances, also shared that the performances that excite her the most connect deeply with audiences across cultures and countries.

“They could be profoundly anchored in their own cultures, but are also universal in nature. Two totally disparate genres can still have a lot in common,” she explained.

This merging of cultures is visible in her own oeuvre of performances and personal life – as she mentions Paris as a city that attracts world cultures and the Upanishads, which profoundly uphold the values of the universal man, as deep influences on her work.

‘Connections’, curated by Chatterjee, will conclude here on April 14. Dancers from the Opera of Paris, Contemporary Circus, Norwegian pop-rock music, Contemporary Flamenco have previously performed in the festival. (IANS)

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