By SHALINI RAO
Sarva Shaasthra Sampannam Sarva Shilpa Pravarthakam|
Natyaakyam Panchamam Vedam Sethihaasam Karomyaham||
Lord Brahma says: “I give you the fifth veda Nāțyashāstra – replete with śāstra (knowledge/ text), śilpa (art/ craft) and itihāhsa (legends, stories, myths).” There is nothing that is not found in nātya, it is the imitation of life and its learnings.’
The sixth edition of the Valley of Words, 2022, an international literature and arts festival that believes that both, literature and art have the potential to engage young minds, will bring a specific area of collaboration: Iti Nritya. At a time when all are running towards instant gratification and alternative realities, it’s the need of the hour to encourage, showcase and promote India’s vast intangible heritage. And it has chosen to begin with Iti Nritya.
Iti Nritya is a platform for upcoming dancers of all Indian classical dance forms to showcase their performances on the VoW stage. The doors have been opened to young dancers from all over the country. The panel of judges, which includes classical dancers and professors from the dance departments of renowned universities, will shortlist three young artistes. The shortlisted dancers will perform on stage at the Festival. The Valley of Words offers short-listed artistes travel and stay along with a certificate of appreciation and trophy of recognition.
One may question, why is VoW doing this?
The answer is to encourage young dancers. Training in classical dance is a huge undertaking not only for the person learning it but for the whole family. Proficiency in any art form cannot be achieved overnight. The dedication and hard work required to be able to perform on stage is immense. And with the culture shift one can see people tilting away from it. But Valley of Words looks at it as its contribution towards developing a more cohesive society to spread awareness about Indian classical dance.
A very important part of any recital is the audience and the effort is to create informed audiences with Iti Nritya. The mass influx of television, reality shows and the desire to succeed overnight has taken people far away from what is so intrinsic to India – its rich culture. An informed audience not only encourages artistes but also has a heightened and developed sense of understanding of not only art forms but one’s own capabilities.
Another very important part of any such movement is collaboration. It is a cause that needs contributors and partners from all walks of like. One doesn’t have to be an artiste to understand art. Art is all pervasive. VoW seeks engagement with organisations, institutions and individuals who want to be a part of Iti Nritya. In the future, the hope is to make Iti Nritya a platform that engages not only the youth but also people who want to bring a new awareness into their lives. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. And that is what is being sought to be achieved.