Chidambaram Natyanjali Trust to work with US-based dancers

New Jersey: The Natyanjali Trust, that organises India`s largest annual classical dance festival at the Lord Shiva temple in Chidambaram - is planning a tie up with US-based dance gurus and dancers to help them perform at the festival that pays homage to the lord of the dance.

Sambandam, Secretary of Natyanjali Trust and an attorney in the Tamil Nadu temple town of Chidambaram said here that the five-day festival that attracts over 700 dancers from all over the world is considered the biggest festival of its kind.

Dancers from every single genre, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Oddissi, Yakshagnanam, Mohiniyattam, Kathak and other classical and folk styles descend on the holy city to perform either solo, group or ballet at the feet of Lord Nataraja as a dance tribute.

"Dancers from all over the world consider it sacred to perform before the Lord of Dance and we want more engagement with US-based dancers and students," he said.

Participation and response have acquired international dimension.

He said there were requests from US-based dancers, teachers and students to help them perform at the festival and the Trust is planning to set up a coordinating office in the US, especially at the East Coast, to facilitate this.

The dancers start performing one by one at 6 PM on the Maha Shivratri day and go on till the next morning as part of the tradition. The five-day festival is witnessed by over 10,000 people and the next festival starts on March 10, 2013 at Chidambaram, he said.

It goes by the lunar calendar and commences on Maha Shivratri day every year since its humble beginnings in 1981.

It is now patronised by the Government of India`s Sangeet Natak Academy, South Zone Cultural Center, State Governments, Annamalai University and philanthropists.

It has comeup on the global dance map and the organisers start receiving applications in March itself for the following year and permissions are given after a careful scrutiny of applicants` experience and style, Sambandam said.

Dancers come as far as from Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia, China, The Fiji, the US and the UK and a forty-foot huge stage is erected on the outer corridor of the magnificent temple near the sanctum sanctorum.

Chidambaram was a Chola capital from 907 AD ? 1310 AD and the Nataraja temple was erected during the later time of the administration.

With a view to reviving and consolidating the tradition, a concerted effort was made in 1981 with the cooperation of Podhu Deekshithars ? the hereditary custodians of the temple.

Over the years, Natyanjalii has grown in status developing into national festival presenting many styles of Indian classical dance, he added.

Calai Chandra, a New York-based Bharatanatyam dancer, who performed last year at Chidambaram dance festival, described her experience as celestial and soulful.


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