Saturday 19 March 2022

Collaborative excellence marks Twelfth Pragjyoti Festival: Part 1 - Taalam: column by Leela Venkataraman

 The twelfth Pragjyoti International Dance Festival, hosted for the last eleven years in Guwahati by Kalpa (shared society for promotion of literature, culture and social harmony), a collaborative online event this year, thanks to pandemic compulsions, featured some of the finest online workshops, built round aspects crucial to the art world today. Aside from the usual interactive sessions, the three and a half day event featured Danslenz, films and documentaries curated by Dr. Arshiya Sethi (founder of KRI Foundation, a key festival supporter), entirely devoted to the North Eastern part of India (as yet a hardly known part of the country for most Indians), with accent on the ecology of art, emphasising issues connected with climate change along with the very grey area of Arts and the Law.

In her introductory statement, Anwesa Mahanta, founder of Pragjyoti International established in 2009, referred to the festival as a 'multi destination' event, with many foreigners participating, its interdisciplinary approach helping broaden horizons of dancers in Assam, many becoming the State's best cultural ambassadors. Arshiya Sethi, calling this region her Karma Bhumi, inspiring her first great research work in 1974 on the Sattriya tradition, touched on the challenges created by the pandemic, which had increased the realisation in art circles about the dire necessity to work together to stay alive. Living amidst the shadow of decaying environment and climate change, it was important to create 'rasikas,' for whom guided viewing was the need of the hour. Sangeetha Dutta of Trinayan Kalabodh mentioned how at Lal Bahadur Sastri Bhavan in Delhi, special open forums on art and heritage were being organised as part of the 'Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav' celebrations.

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