By Raushan Smakova
International Dance Day was celebrated in a unique way in Kazakhstan with the participation of three generations of Bharatanatyam dancers. The concerts took place on 6th and 9th April at the Kazakh concert hall in Almaty and the Tilep Kobyz Palace Concert all in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan respectively. Both the performances were supported by the Embassy of the Republic of India in Kazakhstan and UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office.
The project Guru-Sishya was launched by Akmaral Kainazarova, founder and choreographer of the Centre of the Indian classical Dance in Almaty. It was a feast to watch P.T. Narendran performing with his disciple Akmaral and also with twenty of her students. The audience marvelled at the harmonious presentation of guru and sishyas of three generations. As a critic I was curious to find the difference between local dancers and the dancer from India, but to my surprise the Kazakh performers of Bharatanatyam did full justice to the performance. It was evident that they had imbibed the stylise and beauty of Bharatanatyam from their guru.
The programme included classical dances like Bharatanatyam and Kathak, folk dances of India, and fusion of Kazakh and Indian dance. The performances underlined the aim of International Dance Day to uplift and celebrate the ability of this art form to cut across cultural and geographical borders, to bring people together through the language of dance.
Akmaral Kainazarova, director and choreographer of the Centre of Indian Classical Dance, Almaty, was the first to take Bharatanatyam to Kazakhstan. In 2006, she established the Centre for the study of Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Carnatic music for beginners, traditional Indian Yoga, Hindi language, and Bollywood dance. The ages of the students range from 6 to 60. The work of the Centre is supported by the Embassy of India in Astana and ICCR in New Delhi.
In 1998 Akmaral completed her Diploma in Bharatanatyam and Nattuvangam at Kalakshetra. She holds an M.A degree in Bharatanatyam from Madras University and Post-Graduate Diploma for Yoga Therapy from Sanskrit Department, Madras University, Chennai. She has won many awards such as “Madeniet Kairatkeri” (Representative of Culture) for popularising Indian classical dance in Kazakhstan, and “Champion of the World 2003” for Bharatanatyam performance in the 7th World Championship of Performing Arts in Hollywood, U.S.A. Akmaral is also an empanelled artist of ICCR in New Delhi.
The programmes at Almaty and Astana were attended by diplomats, professors of the Academy of Arts, Eurasian National University named after Gumilyev and other universities, intellectuals, dance choreographers and art lovers. The theatre in both cities was full and the dancers got a standing ovation. The Indian Ambassador in Kazakhstan, Ashok Kumar Sharma, congratulated the participants and thanked P.T. Narendran for presenting the classical art of India in Kazakhstan.