Today is the 89th birth anniversary of dance maestro GA Mannan.
Mannan is credited with setting the trend for fusion in the country’s dance scene. It is mainly to his credit that the idea of merging classical forms with folk forms became popular in the 1960s, which remains popular even today.
Due to the on-going Eid holiday, no dance organisation has reportedly chalked out programme to observe his birth anniversary this year.
Mannan was born in Cumilla in 1930. In his early teens in Bombay, he was trained by dance guru Shantibardhan, who was also from Cumilla.
Later, under the stage name of Manish Kumar and as a member of Shantibardhan’s Little Ballet Group, he toured many countries across the world.
Trained in different classical dance forms, he devoted himself to folk dance after he returned to Dhaka in the fifties, and started performing under his own name.
On returning, Mannan joined Bulbul Lalitakala Academy in Dhaka and invested his skills and knowledge in training students. At the academy, he created a few dance styles including peacock dance, spring dance, fishermen’s dance, harvest dance, santal dance and tea-garden dance – which grew in popularity in the ensuing years.
One of his major choreographies that made an indelible effect on the dance arena was based on Nakshi Kanthar Math. The seminal Jasimuddin play, at the hand of GA Mannan, was a beauty to watch. The master dance artiste also choreographed a ballet based on Rabindranath Tagore’s Khudhita Pashan.
Mannan also directed a few more productions based on folk tales and palas including Mohua. He had an eye for contemporary issues and brought them on stage through his productions. Among such productions are Kashmir, and Grow More Food.
In his eventful career, Mannan founded Nikkon Lalitkala Academy and worked as a dance director at several government-run organizations and institutes including Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
He died on March 1, 1990.
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