Nrityagram: For The Love of Dance
A Documentary by Nan Melville
I first met the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble when they were far from their home base near Bangalore in India. I was assigned by the New York Times to photograph their debut performance In New York in 1996.
I was so enchanted by the dancers, and the concept of Nrityagram – a village devoted to dance – that I jumped at Protima Bedi’s invitation to visit the school in India. I subsequently decided to make a documentary film about the Nrityagram Dance Village and Ensemble. I have become a great friend of the members of Nrityagram, photographing many of their New York performances, and putting up dancers on my sofa when hotels overflowed. I have traveled to India twice to film life in the dance village, and research archival materials. I was passionate about the project and personally invested over $10,000 to produce the film.
“Nrityagram: For the Love of Dance” had its world debut on January 25, 2010 as part of the Dance Films Association/Dance on Camera 2010 Festival in New York City. It has subsequently been accepted to over 25 film festivals and has won 7 awards.
My mission was to capture for posterity the story of the dance village and the dancers, and how they promote and develop the Odissi dance form. I remain immensely grateful to the sponsors who provided funding. Dance institutions in India are still very reliant on individuals for financial and cultural support. My aim was that the documentary would be used to promote awareness of Nrityagram, and as a tool to assist Executive Director Lynne Fernandez with fundraising for the school.
The Odissi dance form is now in a phase of expansion to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Nrityagram stands poised at the cutting edge of this growth and is prepared to become a significant player in the development that lies ahead. It is my hope that the Nrityagram Dance Village and Ensemble will have the support needed to endure for a very long time.