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A festival of Indian dance and music

Vyjayanthi Kashi: Poetry in motion. Photo: Jason Borg.

Vyjayanthi Kashi: Poetry in motion. Photo: Jason Borg.

India's top dancer Vyjayanthi Kashi believes dance is like poetry. "Just as when you're fluent with your grammar, you make poetry instead of words," she says. "Dance is something so natural to me that it becomes my poetry, my breath. I'm in love with it."

Kashi will be performing Kuchipudi - one of the seven classical forms of traditional Indian dance - at St James Cavalier, Valletta, this evening and tomorrow.

Although the kuchipudi is a traditional Indian dance, Kashi has revolutionised it to incorporate contemporary themes and concepts.

"Things have changed nowadays: in the past people used to dance all night. Of course, people don't have the time or the lifestyle to be able to do that. So now even though dances last less, I am still trying to give it my best... Art should not stagnate, it should relate to every person."

Is dance innate to every Indian?

"Dance is the birthright of every human being," Kashi points out. "However, very few believe in their body's rhythm. In India, many don't have confidence in themselves.

People feel that the best way to stay in touch with culture is with the arts - this is deeply rooted in nature."

Kashi explains how even her dance begins with a poem which salutes nature: "The sun, the moon, the stars are my ornaments."

Her objective is to bring India to the audience, to make people want to visit her homeland.

"Through dance I am sharing my heart. This heart belongs to India... Dance is a way of life. Now life is constantly changing. So dance changes with it. With dance there must be an equal balance between tradition and contemporary life, without losing its aesthetics."

In India, music and dance are considered to be the sacred offerings to the gods and it is in this spirit that the dancers and musicians perform.

In a separate performance, violinist sisters Anupriya and Kanupriya Deotale and percussionist Harimohan Sharma will be playing North Indian classical music. Anupriya Deotale plays the violin, while her sister plays the tanpura which is similar to the violin. Sharma plays the tabla, a sort of drum.

Indian classical music is very spiritual and divine. It has a basic structure within which the musicians play their own "feelings". They improvise on tradition.

"Music comes from very deep inside," they explain. "Through music we want to bring across a message of love, peace and harmony."

All performances, which start at 8.30 and 9 p.m., are part of the activities to mark the Year of Intercultural Dialogue at St James Cavalier. Further information is available on www.sjcav.org.

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