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An introduction to Nayakanveshan

Nayakanveshan is an exciting digital collaboration for a new global project bringing together Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar, the Art of Living Academy of Performing Arts and Balbir Singh.

Guru Pratap Pawar (top left) watches on as students demonstrate their learning. The students were astonished by the Guru's capacity to take in the slightest detail of their movements, even with so many students to assess at once

Students from across the world have been working with Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar to learn his iconic Kathak choreography from 1970 – the Nayak Bedha.

Working with 30 Kathak dancers and artists – from the UK to India, Canada to Guyana, South Africa to Sri Lanka – this 12-week online programme has provided a deeply enriching experience and opportunities for artistic growth.

Amongst the cohort are 10 beneficiaries of the Balbir Singh Dance Company (BSDC) Nayak Bursary.

The course has been organised by Sunil Sunkara, an academic from The Art of Living Academy (ALAP), the organisation which has hosted the course and supported the recruitment of students, the technical production of the course and the communication between teachers and students.

Delivered through conference and coaching calls, the programme ran from November 2020 to February 2021.

Aspiring and trained dancers were invited to join weekly Zoom practical dance workshops led by Guru Pawar in which they experienced the boundless energy and artistry of a world class choreographer. As well as learning the movement vocabulary of the piece, students were able to gain insights into the deeper contextual meaning of the piece.

Additionally, Balbir Singh (Guruji Pratap Pawar’s disciple) provided the opportunity for several dancers to extend their own choreographic skills by exploring how aspects of western contemporary dance can be integrated with the classical tradition.

Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar leading one of the online sessions.

‘Guruji’s transition between multiple characters Gautama, Ahilya and Rama was so awe-inspiring that I remember feeling chills when I watched his video reference’

Nishant Panicker, BSDC Nayak Fellow