Dance Drama Repertory
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.
Vision & Direction
The vision and direction to the Kendra’s Repertory is provided by its Director, Shobha Deepak Singh who has conceptualized, designed, directed and produced more than thirty dance dramas for the Kendra. Since childhood, she got initiated in the Kendra’s production work and grew up amongst the artists, sets, costumes, jewelleries and the exciting creative impulses of the stage, green room and rehearsal halls.
Having trained in Kathak under the tutelage of Birju Maharaj and in classical music under Amjad Ali Khan and Biswajeet RoyChowdhary, and armed with a degree in Bachelor of Performing Arts, Shobha later became a disciple of the doyen of Indian Theatre Mr. Ebrahim Alkazi. Between 1992-96, she was trained in direction and production of plays, light designing, set designing, acting and script writing at Alakazi’s ‘Living Theatre’ who played a huge role in honing her directorial capability. It was this training in theatre production and stagecraft which made it possible for her to come up with an array of outstanding productions.
She has successfully directed the annual productions of ‘Shri Ram’ and ‘Shri Krishna’ the two flagship productions of the Kendra, for over three decades.
Some of her other notable directorial works are: Konark (1978), Khajuraho (1980), Karna (1984), Parikrama (1994) and Meera (1995) Dance of Shiva (2003), Shree Durga (2007), Kamayani (2011) and Kumar Sambhava (2012).
Shobha Deepak Singh has also nurtured and guided a number of young choreographers and artists in the field of contemporary dance drama in India.
In 1999, she was awarded the high honour of ‘Padma Shri’ by the President of India for her creative contributions
During the last sixty years some thousands of Artists have participtated and contributed to the Kendra’s repertory in varying capacities – Choreographers, Music Composers, Script Writers, Set designers, Light designers and of course, as Dancers. Some of the notable names are as under:
Narendra Sharma, Krishnan Nambudri, Guru Gopinath, K. Shekharan, Krishna Chander Naik & Shashidharan Nair in contemporary dance drama style;
Shambhu Maharaj, Briju Maharaj, Uma Sharma, Kumudhini Lakhia, Munna Shukla and Vaswati Mishra in Kathak style;
Krishna Chandra Naik and Olek Niranjan Bisoi in Chhau style;
Mayadhar Raut in Odissi style;
Justin McCarthy in Bharatanatyam style
Jyotindra Moitra, Sushil Das Gupta, Barun Gupta, Dagar Brothers, Amjad Ali Khan, Barun Gupta, Shiv Prasad, Atul Desai, Jwala Prashad, Partha Das, Shubha Mudgal and Shanti Sharma
Tapas Sen, Sithanshu Mukherjee, Gautam Bhattacharya (Lights) and Keshav Kothari (Sets)
Bhagwan Das Verma, Raghavan Nair, Narendra Sharma, Jayanti Sharma, Bharati Gupta, Pradeep Shankar, Pratap Pawar, Rina Singha, Surendra Kaur, Tirath Ajmani, Uma Sharma, Aloka Panikar, Bhushan Lakhandri, Daksha Seth, Harish Rao, Radhika Laukaran.
Resident Music Director
Biswajeet Roy Chowdhary, eminent Sarod maestro and Senior Guru in Kendra’s Classical Instrumental Music department is providing guidance and support to the repertory as its resident music director. Besides creating music for productions like Dance of Shiva and Tripurantak, he has been maintaining and developing the music of all the live productions of the repertory, including its iconic presentations – ‘Shri Ram’ and ‘Shri Krishna’.
Dance Drama Productions
Kendra’s flagship production - SHRIRAM
Shriram Bhartiya Kala Kendra’s magnum opus based on the Indian epic of Ramayana, first produced in 1957 as ‘Ramlila’ and since been staged every year for a month during the festival of Dussehra (September–October). Created and designed in the distinctive dance-drama mould of the Kendra and a popular event in Delhi’s annual calendar.
Kendra’s second iconic production - KRISHNA
Based on the popular Indian epic of Lord Krishna, originally produced in 1977 and staged annually since then for a week on the occasion of Janmashtami - the day of His birth in this world in human incarnation (August – September)
MEERA - 1995/2002
A musical masterpiece based on the life and songs of Meerabai, one of the greatest saint poetesses of medieval India (16th C). A devotee of Krishna, wherever Meera went, through the effervescence of her poetry, she spread the message of liberation and urged an inner awakening.
KARNA - 2001
A classic dance drama depicting the life and tragedy of the heroic character Karna from the great Indian epic Mahabharata. Nature and nurture collude to deny Karna and other Karnas their rightful place in society. The work is based on famous Hindi poem ‘Rashmi Rathi’ by national poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.
KHAJURAHO - 1980/2003
A dance- drama adaptation of a fictional play depicting the origin of the famous temples of Khajuraho in Central India built in the twelfth century. A lyrical and romantic presentation attempting to capture and portray the sentiments behind the sculpting of the world renowned sensuous sculptures seen on the walls of Khajuraho.
SHREE DURGA - 2007
Based on the Hindu mythology of Goddess Durga who is primarily revered for conquering the unconquerable demon Mahishasur. The production brings out both the auspicious and ferocious aspects of the goddess – life on one hand and death on the other – her two facets each demanding the existence of the other; the Devi’s of this world – Durga and Kali.
CHAKRAVYUHA / ABHIMANYU - 1993/2010
Based on the legend of young hero Abhimanyu as related in the epic of Mahabharata. The story of Abhimanyu, youthful enthusiasm and selfless valour torn asunder by vested interests and vicious hostilities, is the root of an injustice that we all feel,but in different ways.
PARIKRAMA / KAALCHAKRA - 1994
An abstract and philosophical work of choreography inspired by the Padma Purana, deviating from Kendra’s mythology based dance-dramas. Parikrama is a state of mind which forms an integral part of the Indian psyche. It plunges into and emerges from the cycle of birth and death.
KUMAR SAMBHAVA - 2012/2015
Kumar Sambhava is the love story of Shiva and Parvati, who are both lovers and cosmic principles. Rich in allusions to the mythology and stories of the Vedic hymns, epics, puranas, the poem retells the story of the birth of Kartikeya - son of Shiva and Parvati - who was born destined to to destroy the demon Taraka. The production is inspired by Kalidasa's Kumar Sambhava