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  • Writer's pictureAayushi Sharma

How the dance schools in Australia are keeping the Indian classical dance alive in the country

Traditional art forms create a much needed bridge among culturally distinct communities. Indian dance schools in Australia are an important link in this regard.

NrityaNiketan, the dance school focusing on Bharatanatyam, celebrated its 25th anniversary in Sydney.

In order to develop sustainable bilateral ties between states, it is very important to engage at a deeper cultural level, something that India and Australia have been doing for years now. It is only recently however that the cultural exchange on both sides is getting its due share of recognition that it deserves. One of the key factors contributing to this relationship is the presence of the ever vibrant Indian diaspora in Australia that also brings with itself a strong and rich heritage of cultural values through various artforms. It is very interesting to note that the Indian diaspora present in Australia has been actively involved in spreading the keen knowledge of their own culture and allowing a positive assimilation to the Australian culture itself.

While food and the shared love for cricket still seems to dominate the story of India and Australia, there is more to the picture. The Australian multicultural society has been beaming with Indian folk art forms through dance, music and visual arts. The prime example of this can be ascertained through a very successful evening of celebrating the Indian classical dance form of Bharatnatyam at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

NrityaNiketan, an Indian classical dance school based in New South Wales, Australia, celebrated its thirty years in service to the classical dance form through a grand performance in Sydney. The dance sequences portrayed the stories of the grandeur of Lord Shiva. NrityaNiketan, like other dance schools operating in Australia, aimed to impart the knowledge of traditional folk arts to young professionals and students of dance forms. Each student of this dance school themselves has a story of their own. From championing the struggles of Down Syndrome to dealing with a host of other challenges of a migrant life, the medium of dance empowered them all.

While NrityaNiketan became the talk of the town with their mesmerising performance in celebration of the classical Indian dance form, it is not the only school of dance that seeks to impart the knowledge to keep the traditions alive in Australia.

Nrityanjali Australia

A non-profit organisation based in Sydney, Nrityanjali Australia seeks to function only for the upliftment and empowerment of the Indian traditional artists in Australian society. Their work entails creating a strong network of schools of Indian classical art forms and work towards supporting as well as promoting local artists in the country. Not only creating a community, Nrityanjali Australia actively engages in developing skills of new professional artists by organising workshops and training sessions with renowned artists in the field of Indian classical dance. The idea is to create a strong support mechanism and base for young artists to also develop and hone their skills in order to keep the artform alive in the cultural consciousness of not only the Indian diaspora but also the other communities living in Australia.

Established in 2009, the organisation also works on organising concerts for artists to showcase their talent and also provide them a stage for their production. The organisation has tie-ups with various dance schools for Indian classical dance forms spread across Australia, Ms. Neeta Sura’s NrityaNiketan forms an integral part of this cohort of dance studios. The schools form a spectrum of different dance forms that are taught to young professionals ranging from Kathank, Kuchipuddi and Bharatanatyam.

Art has the ability to transcend any regional boundaries and also develop the foundation for a strong long standing relationship between two distinct states. When it comes to India and Australia, the two countries have made major headway in recognizing cultural traditions on both sides. Not just for the Indian classical dances, organisations like Sangam aim to create a confluence between Indian and South Asian traditional folk arts and Australian indigenous art forms. Endeavours like these can help create significant experiences on both sides of the communities to understand each other on a deeper level and this can translate into a strong people-to-people connection that forms the basis of any community engagement.

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