Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra’s Repertory is one of the major dance companies in India, specializing in the genre of Indian dance drama or ‘Nritya-Natya. It has also presented dance choreographies ‘Nritya Sanrachna’ based on specific style of Indian Classical dance.
Though its first dance production ‘Barkha Bahaar’ was created as early as 1952, Kendra’s serious foray into the world of dance dramas commenced in 1957 when it was asked by the then Prime Minister of India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru to present a large production on the epic of Ramayana. This three hour production based on Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas, covering the life of Lord Rama from his birth to coronation, ran to packed houses in the then Football Stadium of Delhi and became a landmark in the contemporary history of Indian dance drama.
After the success of Ramlila there was no looking back and the Kendra went on to produce two memorable works namely Malti Madhav, and Kumar Sambhav, choreographed by Lacchu Maharaj and Birju Maharaj. These were based on Kathak style of dance.
Right from the beginning, the Kendra followed two artistic approaches in its choreographic works – one exclusively based on a classical dance style (initially Kathak style) and the other, a creative approach of combining elements of different dance styles and allied traditions. This came to be known as ‘Creative style of dance or dance drama’ in 1960’s.
From mid 1970’s, with the opening of Chhau dance department in the Kendra’s College, it became possible for the repertory to harness its dynamic and powerful body movements to launch a series of highly successful productions based on Chhau. A good number of works were also created in the Bharatanatyam style from 1999 onwards.
However, it is the Kendra’s experimental and creative works combining different forms of dance and music, beginning with the first Ramlila in 1957 that led to the evolution of a unique and distinctive style of dance drama. In fact, one of the most significant contributions of SBKK to Indian dance is to develop a vibrant language of dance drama based on India’s varied traditions of classical and folk dances, classical and regional music, martial and acrobatic arts, masks and make-up styles as also techniques, conventions and devices adapted from varied performances traditions of India.
During its journey of 60 years or more, the Kendra’s Repertory has created over sixty productions, about half of them in its distinctive creative style and the rest in a specific classical style like Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Odissi or Chhau.
The repertory company has a resident choreographer, music composer, costume and ornament makers and a team of skilled technicians for lights, sound, stage, sets, besides a score of youthful talented dancers.