Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Ingenuity In Expression At The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2018...

A Biennale celebration of creative excellence in expression through movement - DANCE - The Natya Ballet Dance Festival organized by the Natya Ballet Centre in association with Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) drew a close to its second edition on December 2, 2018. 

The three-day event at SNA premises in the heart of the city beginning November 30, 2018, witnessed a full-house audience all three days, performing arts enthusiasts and Indian culture fanatics alike, soaking in the rich heritage of the timeless art form that is dance. Exploring the pertinent themes of ‘Dance in Film’ & ‘Dance in Theatre’, NBDF 2018 showcased the best of both local and global art forms, at the same time emphasizing on female power in dance & theatre. 

Commencing with renowned American choreographer and Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre, Ananya Chatterjee's Masterclass that introduced a contemporary Indian dance technique called Yorchhā, which brings together movement principles from Odissi, Vinyasa Yoga, and Mayurbhanj Chhau, NBDF 2018's first day also drew the curtains with a contemporary retelling of the Mahabharata, conceptualized by the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust employing an amalgam of the Japanese technique of Bunraku, masks and shadow theatre, along with the elements of Chhau and Kalaripayattu to present a spellbinding storytelling session. 

Helmed by Anurupa Roy, Founder and Managing Trustee of the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust, the hour-long enactment of the mythological epic saw a stream of the conscious narrative of the fifteen prominent characters of the Mahabharata. The unquestioning loyalty to their personal beliefs by each that paved way to the battle of Kurukshetra was portrayed effortlessly, whilst at the same time questioning whether the characters had chances to alter their choices that could have made a difference to the consequences. 

While the second and third days of the festival aimed to explore the underlying themes by the means of 'Meet The Legends' and 'Dance Discourses', there was a lot to look forward to, as the experience unfolded. 

“It was a labor of love to bring a festival of this magnitude to the Delhi public, and a rewarding experience to witness the large turnout. Natya Ballet Centre strives to innovate, expand dialogues and boundaries within the realm of dance, which was showcased under one roof, over three days. A coming together of immense talent from different fields.”, said Radhika Hoon, Chairperson, Natya Ballet Centre on showcasing a tribute to dance in the context of theatre and film, by the means of The Natya Ballet Dance Festival. 

On the second day, Sangeet Natak Akademi opened its doors to an insightful conversation with the legend of contemporary Indian Dance, Astad Deboo, who pioneered the contemporary dance style at a time when innovation in Indian dance was not welcomed. 

In his session moderated by Dr. Arshiya Sethi, a scholar, commentator, administrator, consultant and an activist in the field of art and culture, Mr. Deboo discussed how his style of dance has evolved during the years from learning Kathak and Kathakali, to his own unique style and shared his story of how he taught dance to deaf artists and children of the Salaam Balak Trust giving them an opportunity to perform in public. 

This segment was immediately followed by a tete-a-tete between the legendary Kathak exponent Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj and Manjari Sinha, an acclaimed musicologist and classical music and dance critic. 

The living legend shared anecdotes of how he learned Kathak, his journey and the legacy of Kathak which will be carried forward, beautifully binding the past, present, and future. Besides, being a maestro of Kathak, Maharaj Ji demonstrated his prowess at playing the tabla, recited his own poetry and sang leaving the onlookers in a graceful bind. 

The ‘Dance in Theatre’ segment welcomed renowned theatre artists such as Maya Krishna Rao, Vinay Kumar from Adishakti Theatre, Gowri Ramnarayan and Bharatanatyam exponent Jyotsna Shourie along with moderators Dr. Anita Cherian & Saumya Baijal, who shared their insights on how dance and theatre blend in the work and practice. 

Later in the evening, two international performances had been planned, courtesy the famous Dutch dance company Vloeistof - ‘We are waiting at the Border’ - a confrontational public space performance and Leo Spreksel's ‘Ayush’, an amalgamation of Western dramaturgy and Kathak vocabulary, performed by Hari and Chethana and Sirisha. 

Vloiestof has traveled across Europe and this festival served as the platform for it to premiere in India. With four dancers, three mirrors and a huge glass plate, the aim of this performance was to explore new ways to break boundaries and focus on unexpected aspects of borders. 

Commenting on how dance has come across as a powerful medium to fuel change in society, Nikita Maheshwary, Creative Director, Natya Ballet Centre was of the following opinion. 

“We are thrilled and humbled to see that our aim to unfold the plural discourses on dance and open up various dialogues on the shifting paradigms of performing arts has been received so well by audience and critics alike. We are looking forward to being back with our third edition in 2020, as the Natya Ballet Centre celebrates its 60th year, with international and national alliances to showcase many more inspiring artists and performances.”

The last day of The Natya Ballet Dance Festival commenced with a candid talk between Mallika Sarabhai, an eminent choreographer, dancer, filmmaker, actress, writer, and social activist. 

She has been recognized and awarded across the world and Dr. Arshiya Sethi, followed by another ‘Meet The Legends’ session with Leela Samson, who is an exponent and sensitive interpreter of the nuances of Bharatanatyam. 

She spoke about her experience of choreographing a body of work called ‘Spanda’, two decades years ago, which is known for its innovations in Bharatanatyam till date. She also shared details on her latest production named ‘Avani - The River’. The session was moderated by Prof. Naman P. Ahuja, who is a curator of Indian art, a Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a Co-Editor of Marg Publications. 

In the same afternoon, the focus shifted to ‘Dance in Film’ where award-winning filmmakers and artists Saba Dewan, Justin Mc Carthy, Sharada Ramanathan, and Vikram Iyengar presented excerpts of their films and delved on the role of the camera in dance. 

The evening culminated with a powerful performance, ‘Aham Sita’, directed by Gowri Ramnarayan of the JustUs Repertory, Chennai and performed by the renowned Bharatnatyam danseuse Priyadarsini Govind. 

A blend of dance, music and the spoken word, it frames five crucial moments in the life of Sita along with the other women of the Ramayana - Urmila Mandodari, Surpanakha, and Ahalya - the act was widely appreciated.

Needless to say, the effort put in by the performing artists and festival directors shone through to put forward a successful second edition of The Natya Ballet Dance Festival, and here's hoping that dance as a performing art and catalyst continues to dissolve boundaries across the globe. :)

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

An Ode To Expressive Brilliance At #NBDF2018...

From the Inside to the Outside, 
From People to Puppets, 

From the Stage to Public Spaces, 
From Mythology to Modernity. 

A delicate thread of expressive movement binds these four facets of societal perception - DANCE. 

It is an age-old-adage that actions speak louder than words. Dance is one such series of actions that has the ability to spellbind, taking the audience on a rollercoaster of emotions by the means of impactful performances. 

Dance is an unbelievably powerful medium of narrative and social activism that adapts itself to the interpretation of the viewer. There is thought that is put into performances, which culminates into appreciation as the creative effort of the artiste bears fruit. 

Unfortunately, performing arts of the likes of theater, film, song, and dance are losing out gradually in modern times, yet I recently came across an earnest attempt to revive such arts and give them a new lease of life that is The Natya Ballet Dance Festival 2018

Helmed by Natya Ballet Centre in association with Sangeet Natak Akademi, the second edition of the Biennale ‘The Natya Ballet Dance Festival’ from 30 November - 2 December 2018 is to be held at SNA premises.

This year, the festival is centered around the themes of ‘Dance in Film’ & ‘Dance in Theatre’ that aim to showcase works that transcend any one medium. The three-day long festival is filled with rich and diverse programs that will present the best of both local and global art forms along with a tete-a-tete with living legends of Indian dance.

A melange of thought-provoking and mesmerizing performances, talks, presentations and film screenings with the host of eminent and distinguished artists from India and abroad is what will mark The Natya Ballet Dance Festival, also along with an emphasis on women power in dance and theater.

Conceptualized by Radhika Hoon, Chairperson, Natya Ballet Centre, and Nikita Maheshwary, Creative Director, Natya Ballet Centre, The Natya Ballet Dance Festival attempts to appreciate bold and assertive works that visualize and interpret conventional storytelling through the filters of social and political upheaval.

Be it the ‘Dance Discourses’ focusing on how art can act as an effective medium to mobilize social change or the ‘Meet The Legends’ tete-a-tete that provides an opportunity for the audience and fraternity alike to gain glimpses into the illustrious lives of the mega icons of Indian Dance namely Pandit Birju Maharaj, Leela Samson, Astad Deboo, and Mallika Sarabhai, The Natya Ballet Dance Festival comes across as an exciting and promising amalgamation of talents from across the globe in Delhi, this weekend.

I'll be there at The Natya Ballet Dance Festival to witness the masterpiece come to life. Will you? :)

Monday, 26 November 2018

Spooky Gastronomy At Just Behind U...

Just Behind U Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Just Behind U is one of the fairly new entrants on the F&B scene in the ever dynamic Rajouri Garden. As the name suggests, the outlet is aptly modeled around the theme of a spooky house. Located right next to The Mellow Garden, Just Behind U also shares their management with the latter.

While the interiors are tastefully designed in accordance with the horror theme with a number of skulls, masks, and variation in lighting, the menu boasts of a fairly good variety across Quick Bites, Indian, Oriental, and Italian cuisines.

An interesting theme coupled with decent service and an economically priced menu makes Just Behind U a popular place among families and youth alike. With a mix of retro and contemporary music being played all day long. a meal at Just Behind U is a good one.

Here's what I tried to form a first impression when dining at Just Behind U...


Momos Chaat was a warm basket of dumplings done the Indian way with seasonings to spice up the palate.

Afghani Paneer Tikka Tacos is a popular preparation at Just Behind U with chargrilled cottage cheese layered in Indian flatbread, paired with seasoned onions, lettuce, and bell peppers.

Main Course: 

Basil Pesto Spaghetti was prepared well with the subtle garlic and basil flavor coming through. Served with garlic bread on the side, it was a likable dish, garnished with olives, cherry tomato, and cheese.

Schezwan Fish paired with Schezwan Fried Rice had the authentic combination of soft fish fillets with the vibrant hued staple.


Phirni is one of the simple yet striking sweet conclusions at Just Behind U and I thus chose to close my meal on a nutty note.

All in all, Just Behind U is a fairly good dine-in option with nice food and attentive service adding up to a tasteful experience. :) 

Friday, 23 November 2018

The Zodiac Has Answers...

Eight planets (other than the Earth). 
Twelve signs.

Destiny is concealed in a birth chart drafted by observing the celestial placements. The circumstances at the exact moment of one’s descent on the face of the Earth determine one’s life path that takes its course, eventually leading to self-discovery and establishment of precious relationships.

Astrology is a delicate subject. Debatable one for some, even. It is all about belief - some do, some don’t. Whatever they say, it is inexplicably magical in how the peculiarities of human relationships can be reinforced by observing the minutest of detail embedded in the Zodiac.

Compatibility is of the essence when it comes to relationships across life and is crucial when it comes to establishing and sustaining a marital bond. I have been a believer of the science and art of Astrology ever since I attained the 'marriageable age' and hence I ventured into exploring the multitude of facets that I could appreciate in each of the twelve signs - myself included - after all, life is all about being comfortable with oneself.

Upon setting foot into the sometimes calm, sometimes unsettling waters of celestial adventure, I appreciated the sanctity of personality traits that came to light - be it either pertaining to my husband or me - albeit I was also able to work in tandem with the flaws that came to light too.

Being a cardinal sign, a Libran is practical yet emotional, being affirmative and grounded when the need arises, while a Piscean on the other hand, is dreamy and imaginative, highlighting the mutable nature of the sign.

Opposites Attract 

It is a clear case of opposites attract for us as the fascination of one piques the curiosity of the former, and the firmness in the thought of the other charms the latter. All in all, the creative prowess of Pisces can be brought to life in reality by Libra. 

Divided Priorities 

Being true to the Neptunian fluidity, Pisces is not quite fond of stability, a fact which opposes the Libran tendency of attempting to hold on, come what may. The quintessential Libran charm fueled by Venus is what keeps the fish hooked, so to say. 

Discussion or Deliberation? 

The always diplomatic and peace-loving Libran knows how to keep any discussion from turning into a full-blown argument while the 'good listener' Piscean has an ear for conversations at length. Thus any potential altercation ends on a positive note in the hindsight. 

Augmenting the Flaws 

A Libran's inherent indecisiveness can most certainly perplex a Piscean but once a matter is settled amicably with Libra's final say, Pisces is quick to acknowledge Libra as their pillar of strength that prevents them from being drifted away by turbulent waters. 

All for Family 

Both Libra and Pisces work together to provide the best for their child, both of them being fond of children. 

On the whole, human relationships are all about working in tandem with each other's positives and negatives and the Zodiac has been one great aide on the path of mutual understanding, acceptance, and appreciation. :)

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Culinary Ode To India At Paatra...

Paatra - Jaypee Vasant Continental Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Jaypee Group of Hotels is one of the reputed hospitality chains across the Indian mainland. On a recent visit to one of their premier properties in the heart of Delhi, Jaypee Vasant Continental, I had a chance to relish the choicest of Indian delicacies courtesy their gourmet restaurant catering wholeheartedly to Indian cuisine - Paatra.

Located on Level 1, the restaurant has been tastefully designed - as goes the interior, decor, or the thoughtfully curated menu.

Done up in amber and beige hues, Paatra is well-lit during the day, while soft lighting complements a flavorful meal during evenings. Ambient music recreating classical tunes from the rich symphonies closer to the mainland of India is the final touch that sets the mood right for a dining experience at Paatra.

The restaurant offers both Buffet and Ala Carte schemes of dining so patrons are spoiled for choice at Paatra. Sunday Brunch whipping up a variety of cuisines is yet another feather in Paatra's cap.

Well begun is half done goes the age-old adage, and hence my meal at Paatra begun with an Amuse Bouché comprising of crisp lotus stem and roasted fox nuts on a bed of potato sticks with a carrot relish and a dash of mascarpone cheese on the side, garnished with micro-greens.

Alongside the meal, there was also a poppadom basket and a relish platter.

Coming to the delicacies that Chef Vaibhav Suri made us relish on the account of a thoughtfully curated Tasting Menu...


Tulsi Aur Pudine Ka Nichod was a refreshing welcome drink that had the slight bitterness of basil and mint combination neutralized by the subtlety of honey.

Paan Colada is Paatra's rendition of the classic Pina Colada, substituting pineapple with Paan, thus giving it an Indian accentuation.

Kheera Khaas was a cucumber concoction paired with chopped green chilies to bring up the spice quotient.


Mattarwali Tikki is an in-house specialty being a fresh green peas patty mashed with cottage cheese, that was soft enough to melt-in-mouth but firm enough not to crumble in hand.

Dahi Aur Makhane Ki Shaami was a novel pairing between the classic hung curd and the nutritious fox nut rendered in an aesthetic manner, garnished with beetroot relish.

Paratdaar Paneer Tikka, as the name suggests, is a textured delight with layers of mint relish sandwiched between soft cottage cheese chunks.

Marwa Jhinga was an absolute delight in prawn being layered with mint on a bed of poppadom crisps, paired nicely with mango relish.

Kutti Mirch Ka Macchi Tikka was a mildly spicy preparation with flavorful fish morsels garnished with micro greens.

Main Course:

Paneer Pyaaz Ki Subzi brought Rajasthan to the table in the manner that soft cottage cheese dumplings and button mushrooms were rendered in a luscious gravy.

Shadras Subziyan had a number of exotic veggies - baby corn, broccoli, asparagus - paired with mushrooms and bell peppers - prepared in an Indian style.

Nadru Anjeer Ke Kofte took a subtle hint from Kashmir to pair lotus stem and fig to make nutty, mildly spicy dumplings.

Dal Makhani is the classic lentil favorite across the North Indian belt, that was served at Paatra with a dollop of butter.

Subz Pudina Pulao had flavorful, long grain rice, cooked with carrot, beans, and peas, that also had Raita to go along with.

All the gravies also had an assortment of breads to pair them with, the one that stood out the most was Do Raah Lachcha Parantha, being half-and-half in its preparation.


The dessert at Paatra was the showstopper to a thoughtfully curated meal in being an ode to Indian preparation as three of the most favorite desserts - Kesar Pista Kulfi, Panjeeri, and Rasmalai had teamed up to present an aesthetic, gastronomic melange.

On the whole, I had a delightful meal at Paatra complemented by attention to detail, soothing ambience, and the concept of 'service with a smile'. :)