Usha Raghavan is an internationally acclaimed dancer, teacher and choreographer hailing from Chennai and now Director of Kalasagara UK. She attributes her mastery in Bharatanatyam to her eminent gurus, Padma Shri Adyar K. Lakshman and Padma Bhushan Smt Kalanidhi Narayanan.
As part of her efforts to raise awareness and funds towards the Covid India drive, the dancer has organised a unique “Unite for India” Dance Marathon on June 12-13, bringing together leading Global Indian artists keen to make a difference through art.
Here, she lays out the concept behind the charity venture.
Over the past years, I have managed to raise funds for various causes, such as aid for earthquake victims, tsunami victims, the Blind Relief centre in Tirupati and others through my dance shows.
My daughter, too, had participated as a student in the Dance Marathon organised by Columbia University in New York, aiming to raise funds for a children’s charity. Inspired by this, I often thought of organising a dance marathon in the UK too.
Hearing about the dire effects of the pandemic over India had greatly moved me, making me resolve to organise a fundraising event immediately. One day, as my friend and I were discussing about the prevailing condition in India, the topic of Marathons came up again.
The creation and curation of dance-based events has long been my forte, and these very Dance Marathons that had captured my interest for months seemed to be a wonderful way of both satisfying my creative energy and being of some aid to those in need. It triggered in my mind the idea of a Dance Marathon Fundraiser – an event where a number of artists and enthusiasts from around the globe came together for a good cause.
Bringing forth this idea to the notice of Krishnapriya Ramamoorthy, head of Paallam Arts, set the ball rolling. Paallam Arts is an organisation that creates opportunities and supports South Asian performing artists. Krishnapriya willingly offered to host the event, which prompted me to expand the scope of the fundraiser globally.
A solid ground plan for the event firmly began to shape up – every single detail from potential dates, the duration of the event, which artists to invite, the concepts for the show etc. had to be meticulously planned out.
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One of the most important decisions to be made through that stage was to choose the correct charitable organisation the funds would go to, one that would directly and swiftly help with the resources needed for . Leafing through various such organisations, I was greatly impressed with , an organisation that already ran projects to help with Covid relief in India, and chose that to be the recipient.
The next part was to bring together the right pool of artists who would be willing to join in this venture. On contacting various artists both in the UK and India, I found much to my delight that some of the finest artists not only applauded my idea but also readily agreed to take part in this marathon event.
The first e-flyer was soon prepared, the donation link to GiveIndia created, and was first shared with the students of Kalasagara, my dance institute in UK. To my joy, donations have already started coming in.
Our social media handles, where a plethora of customised flyers are found for each participating artist and the event itself, are now flooded with support and encouragement from rasikas across the globe. With the day of the Dance Marathon's commencement inching closer and closer, we continue to work towards making it a successful, satisfying and fruitful event for all those involved.
From June 12th to 13th, the Unite for India Dance Marathon is set to bring to its audience 26 hours of sheer artistic endeavour, which we invite everyone to participate and contribute to.
I have always believed that when there is a call through the language of art, it can pull every person together beyond any barrier that may exist. In the current Covid situation, we all aspire to stand with India and do what we can to ease the trouble plaguing the people.
It is in that very spirit this Dance Marathon has been named – “Unite for India”.
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The artists involved include:
Priyadarsini Govind – Bharatanatyam
Rama Vaidyanathan – Bharatanatyam
Sujata Mohapatra – Orissi
Gopika Varma – Mohiniattam
Deepika Reddy – Kuchipudi
Bimbavati Devi – Manipuri
Jayaprabha Menon – Mohiniattam
Kalamandalam Manoj – Kathakali
Keshav Venkataraghavan – Artist – Krishna For Today
Malathy Thothadri – Bharatanatyam – In conversation
Srinidhi Raghavan – Bharatanatyam & Collaboration
Janaki Rangarajan - Bharatanatyam
Mythili Kumar – Bharatanatyam
Dr Nandakumara – Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
Chitra Sundaram – in Conversation
Sujatha Banerjee- Kathak
Rashmi Mishra – Inspiring Indian Women – in Conversation
Kalasagara UK mature students group (15) – Heart to Heart for art – A Conversation
Dominique Delorme – Bharatanatyam
Isabelle Anna – Kathak
Teatro Tascabile Di Bergamo – Conversation
Annalisa Migliorini – Bharatanatyam
Bharatanatyam - Vita Shkapare & Anna Melngalve
Bharatanatyam – Irina Kushelevich
Shantha Ratii – Kuchipudi
Nadanalaya – Bharatanatyam
Shanthy Rajendran – Bharatanatyam