Dancers dream of performing at sites like Hampi and Khajuraho and in a span of four months, I got the opportunity to perform at both these majestic temple complexes. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located about 380km from Bangalore in Karnataka. It is a group of monuments mostly built around the 14th century AD as a part of the Vijayanagara empire, on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. The Hampi festival each year, invites and presents artists from all over India to perform and celebrates the beauty and magnificence of this site.
Natya Vriksha Dance Company was invited to perform at ‘Hampi Utsav’ held in November 2017 by the Government of Karnataka, in collaboration with the Prasiddha Foundation. We were all thrilled to be visiting Hampi and dancing at a site which was once the most prosperous and glorious cities of India. The multiple performances during the three day festival were simultaneously taking place on over 10 stages built in different temple complexes spread all over Hampi. It was not easy for audiences to commute from one stage to the other, leading to many artists being disappointed with the poor turn out at their venues. The stages built around the Virupaksha temple had the maximum concentration of audiences, simply because Virupaksha is an active temple and this was the spot where they had shopping and food stalls.
We performed at the beautiful monument of Hazara Rama Temple, built in the early 15th century. Since it was situated about a couple of kilometers from Virupaksha temple, we were essentially dancing for ourselves, celebrating the antiquity and ubiquity of Indian dance, architecture and ritual. Along with taking our dance to new audiences (even though few in number), performances like these give us an opportunity to witness and learn about the history, architecture, art and aesthetics of our ancient civilization and place our contemporary culture in a historical perspective.