Think of Indian classical dance and the genre that comes to mind is Bharatanatyam. Although most gurus of this dance form in the past were male, it is a rarity to find male Bharatanatyam dancers today. But four men are set to change the precedent by presenting their choreographies during the fifth edition of the Purushaakaram: The Male in Bharatanatyam festival, in Delhi. It is presented as part of the annual Monsoon Dance Festival by India International Centre.
"It is a misconception that classical dance is meant only for women and is effeminate. Indian classical dance is suitable not only for the female body, but for everyone," says S Vijay Kumar, one of the Bharatanatyam dancers who is taking part in the festival.
"Today, when Indian classical dance seems headlined by women, it feels great to be a part of such an initiative," says Lokesh Bharadwaj, who will perform on music compositions by Carnatic music stalwarts Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. Bharatanatyam exponent Renjith Babu will perform a dance recital based on Kalidasa's Abhijnana Shakuntalam, as part of the event.
Vijay Kumar, a male Bharatanatyam dancer.
"People think it is hard for a male dancer to perform since most of the songs are female oriented, but dance is just like acting or impersonation," says Vijay Kumar. His recital will portray a lady who is in absolute love with God.
"Bharatanatyam has a strong future, but is currently undergoing certain changes that could have a profound impact on the art form," says Praveen Kumar, the fourth artist.
What: Monsoon Festival of Dance - July 2015
Where: CD Deshmukh Auditorium, India International Centre, Lodhi Estate
When: July 16 - 17
Timings: 6 pm onwards
Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh on the Yellow Line