Several women from the local towns have come together to produce a cultural event that celebrates ancient and contemporary Indian arts. Praha Makayee, longtime Sandy Hook resident, said, ”An event like this is amazing for the community. It can only be a good thing.”
Makayee said that the classical arts stand the test of time. “The traditional arts are more accountable. We live in a fast paced world, and it takes a lot to commit to learning them.” Makayee believes that even if people don’t understand exactly what they are seeing, “When you are in the presence of this type of music and dance, you will feel it.”
Makayee joins internationally known Odissi dancer, Anindita Nanda, Chairman of the board of the India Cultural Center in this area. Nanda’s vision has been to introduce the Indian arts into the area.
“Events like this are important for our children,” she said. “People can see this kind of dance in New York, but it is important for our children to see their culture represented in their community. We want to showcase these arts so our children will have something to reach up to.”
“There isn’t much in town for the kids,” said Sasmita Satapathy, a Bethel resident who is also involved in bringing this event to the public.
Satapathy said that when she moved to Bethel, she had to search to find Indian cultural experiences for her children. “When I found Anindita, the dance she is doing, I loved it so much, I cried. “
Many people find it worthwhile to travel to study with Nanda. Stratford resident Sheranya Reddy described her joy at finding Nanda in the area. “I was interested in finding a teacher for classical dance and when I found Anindita, the decision was easy. It was seamless.”
“We have people from most of the towns in Fairfield County involved, as well as people from New York and New Jersey,” Nanda said.
The group of women do not comprise an official organization. Instead, Nanda said the women were brought together by the passion they feel for the arts. “Last year we just focused on dance, but this year there will be more live music,” she said.
Nanda said that everyone in the group is involved in more than just the arts. “We are all professionals. I am a chemical scientist. You can have a balance, you have to be disciplined. People today can be a professional and in the arts.” Among her peers, Nanda is sometimes referred to as a guru, which can be described as an influential teacher.
Women from all over the Greater Danbury Area are very involved, including Lauren Halpin, director at Parent Leadership Training Institute in Danbury. Halpin said, “Dance and music connects us all.”
“It transcends culture,” Sharenya said.
The event will be held in the auditorium of the Rogers Park Middle School in Danbury on June 16. (See the flyer in the gallery). The venue seats 400 people and Nanda said that next year, the group plans to host the event in the Danbury Palace.
Three artists will be performing in this year’s event. Odissi dance will be performed by Anindita Nanda, Mandan Oak will be playing the santoor, a 1,000 year old stringed instrument that originated in Northern India. “The santoor sounds like water,” Nanda said.
Amit Kevthekar will play the tabla, which Nanda explained is a percussion instrument.
Nanda said that the multimedia afternoon will be a fusion of music and dance. The artists will be coming together from India, California and Connecticut.
“This is the first fusion piece to be performed like this,” Nanda said. “The music and dance takes you on a journey with water. It starts with a drop, and builds like a river and finally like the ocean. The way the water builds and changes is like a life’s journey. It will be like the life cycle of a human being, in eight minutes.”
The entire event is expected to last two and a half hours. Nanda said, “We want to show what can be introduced. We are not changing the content of the dance, but introducing contemporary concepts. Everything is evolving, that is where the next generation is going, and so is art.”
To see a video and photos from last year's much smaller event: