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New move
s and steps in Indian dance often emerge where modern life intersects with folk and classical traditions. Artists internalize the multiple cultures they are exposed to and when they create their own choreography it is an expression of their evolving worldviews. Sanjib Bhattacharya’s story is like that. He is a leading choreographer from New Delhi. Bhattacharya will teach a workshop, “Techniques in Contemporary Indian Dance,” in Pasadena this month.

“I was born in Kolkata in a Bengali family,” says Bhattacharya about the influences in his art, “and hence I was easily exposed to Tagore School of dance and music.”

In his choreography Bhattacharya combines contemporary dance techniques with classical manipuri dance.

Bhattacharya studied two styles of contemporary dance in India—one pioneered by the legendary Uday Shankar, which he learned from the late master’s daughter Mamata Shankar and performed extensively with Mamata Shankar Ballet Troupe; the other, nabanritya (or new dance) created by the veteran Manjushree Chaki-Sarkar, which he performed in her performing troupe, the Dancer’s Guild.

“Later on as an adult I chose to learn manipuri dance as its grace and lyrical beauty appealed to me,” he says. Bhattacharya trained in manipuri dance with guru Bipin Singh, Kalavati Devi, and Darshana Jhaveri in Manipuri Nartanalaya, Kolkata. He now has his own institution, Angahaar Academy of Dance, in New Delhi and Kolkata.

“I am now creating my own dance vocabulary combining the techniques of manipuri dance and the open philosophy of Uday Shankar and Tagorean school of movements,” says Bhattacharya. Among his major choreographic works are Parampara, Atmosuddhi, Upalabdhi, Byabodhan, Uttaran, Krishna Katha, Jeevan Darpan, Amrita, Navayug, Avatara, and Poonascha, for which he has received a number of production grants from the Department of Culture, Government of India.

Bhattacharya has won numerous awards, including the senior scholarship from the Department of Culture, New Delhi, for three years; the title “Shringarmani” from Sur Singar Samsad, Mumbai; the title “Nartan Visharad” from Manipuri Nartanalaya, Kolkata; and most recently the prestigious APPEX fellowship in UCLA this summer.

His workshop in Pasadena is organized by Manipuri Dance Visions. Be there, and add some creative new moves to your dance repertoire.

—Ashok Jethanandani

SUNDAY, AUGUST 13, 3 p.m.

Manipuri Dance Visions Studio,
496 California Terrace, Pasadena. 3 p.m.

(626) 796-4784

Ashok Jethanandani

Ashok Jethanandani, B.A.M.S. is a graduate of Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar. Jethanandani now practices ayurveda in San Jose.