A group of dancers presented Charya Nritya (Charja dance) at the Music and Dance Centre of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Wednesday.
The dancers, along with three instrumentalists, offered devotional dance and songs based in the Buddhist tradition of Nepal. They were guided by the eminent Nepalese dancer and Charya Nritya exponent Rajendra Shrestha, who is currently in Bangladesh to promote the ancient dance genre.
The performers were all participants of a month-long Charya Nritya workshop conducted by Shrestha.
The first dance recital presented at the programme was Saurasalasso.
Dancer Naijum Inam Naim and her troupe, wearing a crown as well as ornaments typical of a deity, presented the recital that involved recitation of mantras, sacred hand gestures, foot movements, and yogic postures.
It was a well-coordinated performance and began in a rather leisurely fashion, slowing picking up pace as the performance progressed.
Meanwhile, Laila Yasmin Labonno entertained the audience with her presentation of Vajrayogini. Unlike the first recital, which was relatively slow-paced, it was full of energy and fast movements as it represented the spirit of Vajrayogini, an ancient Buddhist deity of war.
Ruhi Afsana Dipti and Emon Ahmed also performed at the programme, presenting Koumari and Manjusree respectively.
Prior to the performances, there was a discussion session attended by Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy director general Liaquat Ali Lucky, folk researchers Sayem Rana and Saimon Zakaria, and Rajendra Shrestha.
After the speeches, certificates were handed over to all the workshop participants.
It was informed at the session that Charya Nritya – a Sanskrit term translatable as ‘dance as a spiritual discipline’ – is a Buddhist ritual dance with a history going back over a thousand years.
It is performed by Newar Buddhist priests known as Bajracharya as part of their esoteric meditation practices. The dancers represent various deities like the Five Buddhas, Manjusri, Vajrayogini and Tara.
The first public showing of the dance genre was held during the Fourth World Buddhist Conference in Kathmandu in 1956.
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