Danseuse Kumudini Lakhia started the Kadamb Centre for Dance in 1967 to promote the art of Kathak. Today, it imparts training in the dance form with a holistic view of dance education. The dance ensemble is known for its innovations and imaginative approach to the time and space concept. Lakhia has been conferred with the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan for her contribution to dance.
This week, she will host a dance residency at the NCPA. Starting on August 14, the residency will commence with students from different classical dance schools across the city hosting dance presentations based on subjects like the history of Kathak. On August 15, the dancers will present Gati Pravah or a series of Kathak compositions from the Kadamb Centre of Dance. It will include Dhamar -- a piece based on the movement structure of Nritta (pure dance); MeroMan, a piece depicting Radha and Krishna’s love; Sparsh, a performance by senior dancers and Tarana, a form of singing that uses syllables to the melody of the Raga. On August 16, Lakhia’s dance creations will be showcased and will be followed by a conversation with Ratna Pathak Shah. On August 15 and 17, there will be master classes for senior students of Kathak.
Lakhia asserts that the institution’s focus was always on the next generation: “In the classical arts, one is compelled to carry baggage from the past. One is respectful of traditions passed down but we cannot become carriers; we must continue to work towards a progression of what exists already. Dance is made for dancers, and not the other way round. Dance is not a ritual at Kadamb; through the years of dedication in the arts it has become a religion. Dance gives us a sense of spirituality.”
Sustaining an institution for four decades requires foresight, and Lakhia admits that they are always on the look out for new ideas. “Earlier, the accent was on working on mythological themes, but life offers varied experiences that a dancer can express through dance. We work on abstract themes because physical technique is powerful.”
Lakhia is wary of people terming her work as ‘contemporary Kathak’. “We have to decide what is contemporary — I trained in Kathak; my mind and body can only think in that language. Every choreography or dance piece draws from Kathak. I use no modern movements from the West or other Indian dance forms. If my work seems contemporary, it’s because of my mindset. Before the sense of discrimination there is a state of accumulation,” she concludes.
On August 14, 7 pm, The Little Theatre; August 15, 7 pm, The Experimental Theatre; August 16, 7 pm, Tata Theatre; August 15 and 17, 10 am to 1 pm, Sea View Room.
At NCPA, Nariman Point.