Bangladeshi troupe enchants city

Dance drama

Dance troupes from China, Russia and Central Asian countries are frequent visitors to capital city Delhi, but it is a glimpse of culture from our immediate neighbourhood which Delhi is often found yearning for. Bangladesh, for instance, is a name rarely heard of in the annual itinerary of visiting foreign troupes in the city.

Shadhona, a celebrated dance-drama company from the country of the Padma, however, recently filled that void with a mesmerising performance at India Habitat Centre, Delhi. A bunch of youngsters led by renowned Bangladeshi dancer Lubna Marium presented a composition titled ‘Towards Light’ and transported the audience to the world of beautiful Bangladesh. Enriched with the poetry of Guru Rabindranath Tagore, his Rabindra sangeet and soft dance moves, ‘Towards Light’ gave a sneak-peek to the audience into the exotic dance tradition of Bangladesh and left them awestruck.

‘Towards Light’ is a literal translation of Alor pane praner chawla in Bengali, that is, the desire of the soul to attain the light of knowledge.

 It comprised a ‘geeti-nritya alekhya’ meaning narrative woven in music and drama. Poems, read out by well-known Bangladeshi theatre-artiste Mita Rahman, formed the central thread of the performance as youngsters charmingly dressed in ethnic costumes, dhoti and saree, swayed to the tunes. 

“You may be a tad surprised to know that there is no name to this dance form, perpetuated by Rabindranath Tagore many years back. Tagore invited Bharatanatyam dancers from Tamil Nadu and Manipuri dancers from the Northeast to come and perform to his Rabindra sangeet.

He asked them to dance freely, without restricting themselves to any format, and that is how this style was born. It is now widely practised across the greater Bengal, comprising both West Bengal and Bangladesh, as a shared cultural heritage,” informed Marium.
“Often, we strive to establish contacts across countries through politics and trade. But how easy it is to build bridges through culture, very few realise that,” added Rahman, the much-loved ‘sutradhar’ of the show.

The audience, largely comprising city-based Bengalis, of course, couldn’t have enough of the performance. 

“‘Hidden in the depths of my heart is that immortal song, which has no words, no rhythm, no melody. Awaken it with the wand of joy’ – You don’t hear such eternal Tagorean poetry often in today’s world of pop and fusion music, especially enacted in dance-drama.

My good wishes to these youngsters from Bangladesh who have come all the way to reintroduce us to our own culture. I hope they come back time and again,” expressed an emotional member in the audience Sushmita Biswas.   

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