5 FACTS ABOUT SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI
Dance as a form of art has always been an integral part of the rich Indian culture. Such is the importance of dance in India that literally every region of the country possesses its own form/style. The several forms of dances that exist in the country can be further categorized into two groups (i.e. folk dances and traditional/classical dances). Now there are many folk dances but, only a few traditional/classical dances that have also been officially recognized by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and the Sangeet Natak Akademi. So the pertinent questions to be asked is, what exactly is this Akademi, and what role does it play in encouraging dance as an art form in the country? The complete answer to these questions can only be given by explaining in details the “5 essential facts” related to this prestigious “Akademi”, and they are as follows:
# 1: “AKADEMI” CREATED TO ENCOURAGE MUSIC, DRAMA, AND DANCE IN THE COUNTRY
“India’s precious heritage of music, drama, and dance is one we must cherish and develop” said the first Union minister for Education of independent India Maulana Abul Kalam Azad while inaugurating this cultural institute. This quote clearly suggesting that “promoting and preserving” an art form such as dance was the intention of creating such an academy. In addition to promoting, the Sangeet Natak Akademi also directly collaborates with governments and various cultural institutions in states and union territories to cultivate and encourage the study of art forms such music, dance, and drama.
# 2: THE CREATION OF THIS “AKADEMI” WAS AS A RESULT OF GOVERNMENT INITIATIVE
The formation of this reputed cultural institution was all due to the visionary initiative (rarely seen these days) taken by the first government of independent India. It was basically created via a resolution passed by the “Ministry of Education” on May 31st 1952, which was then officially notified in the “Gazette of India” in the month of June. Furthermore, before this “akademi” was formally made functional in 1953, a “General Council” was formed to enable administration of this institution, which was to be led by an appointed “chairman” in the form of Dr. P.V. Rajamannar.
# 3: THE “AKADEMI” WAS OFFICIALLY INAUGRATED IN THE YEAR 1953
It was eventually in 1953, that this culturally significant institution was officially inaugurated. The inauguration ceremony was held on the 28th of January, which was attended by special guests such as the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the then “Minster for Education” who also delivered the inauguration speech.
# 4: THIS “AKADEMI” PROVIDES FOR RENOWNED INSTITUTIONS THAT ENCOURAGES “DANCE” AS AN ART FORM
In terms of encouraging dance as an art form, this institute has certainly taken big strides by providing for training centres of high calibre. In fact, as of today this “akademi” has created two reputed dance institutes i.e. Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy (JNMDA) and the Kathak Kendra located in Imphal and Delhi respectively. The JNMDA was a Government of India institute which was first funded by the “akademi” in 1967, and thereby became a vital part of it. The JNMDA institute (named after first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) is renowned to provide for the best training in the “Manipuri” dance. In addition, the Kathak Kendra (which was funded only in 1964 by the academi) in Delhi is popular for providing training in “Kathak”, a north Indian classical dance. Furthermore, this “akademi” is also involved in encouraging rare folk dances such as the Chhau dance, Sattriya, Kuttiyattam etc by setting up institutes that provide training in such dance forms.
# 5: “AKADEMI” ALSO ENCOURAGES TALENTED DANCE ARTISTS VIA THE USE OF AWARDS
The “Akademi” is also well known for encouraging talented artists in dance by rewarding them with awards. These awards are divided into two categories. They are as follows:
Known as “Akademi Ratna”, this award provides the deserving artists with a significant amount of Rs. 3 lakh.
2. Akademi Awards:
Known as “Akademi Puraskar”, this award provides the deserving artists with a substantial amount of Rs. 1 lakh.
3. Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar:
This award was only installed by the Akademi in the year 2006 as a tribute to the great “shennai” player Ustad Bismillah Khan. This award was created with the intention of motivating talented young artists (in dance, music, and theatre) by rewarding them with an amount of Rs. 25,000.
Thus it is by studying these five essential facts mentioned above, that a clearer picture can be developed with regards to the key role that the “Sangeet Natak Akademi” has played in encouraging an art form such as “dance” in the country over the decades.