Chitra Shankar apart from her training in this ancient dancing style has also posses an intense background in Bharatnatyam and Indian classical music. Chitra Shankar's interest in dance formed at a very early age. She started receiving her training in another traditional art form of dance, Bharatnatyam under the expert tutelage of Kalaimamani Smt. Saroja Vaidyanathan. With this guidance she has however imbibed the 'Pandanallur style of dance'. Afterwards she started expanding her range of dancing style with innovative ideas that are experimental in nature. Presently, Chitra Shankar is trying to widen the traditional style combining with Kalakshetra style under the guidance of Vishwakala Bharathi Smt. Neila Sathyalingam, in Singapore.
Chitra Shankar brought the elusive, fluidity and aesthetical trend in to the conservative Odissi dance form. This helped her to rose into the fame. Under the great tutelage of Guru Sri Hare Krishna Behera, Chitra Shankar has learnt the founding factors of Odissi, which are being strengthened further under the guidance of Padmashri Ms. Madhavi Mudgal. All these combining together have been reflected through her execution. She has however established her unique quality as a dancer by exhibiting brilliance through her performances.
Some creative yet innovative choreographic works grounded on Indian mythology as well as contemporary issues, have been staged to Chitra's credit. Apart from being an accomplished dancer Chitra Shankar has also possessed another identity of being a textile designer. But she chooses dance as the mode of her expression as it personifies art. To her through dance "the qualities, traditions and nuances from a wide variety of art forms... melody from music, the rhythm of the heart, the passion of life, the symbolism from sculpted and sketched postures, the poetry of romance and the prose of everyday living", reflects.
As a student of Indian classical dance Bharatnatyam and Odissi, Chitra Shankar through her performances tried to cover the repertoire of both the classical art forms. The style and the contents of the dance forms have been molded into the new form that eventually brings the 'mystique and magic' of both the dance forms.
Some of her noted performances are: World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific 2007; Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts - 2003- 2007; Racial Harmony Day in the year 2006; 33rd Festival International Cervantino- Mexico- Oct 2005; Kala Yatra- a dance choreography- accompanied by the Singapore Indian Orchestra- at The NUS Auditorium, Singapore- June 2005; Gaana Yatra- a jugalbandi with Kuchipudi in the year 2004; Jugalbandi with various Bharatanatyam artistes and performances on various occasions and different festivals- in SriLanka- 1991, India- 1991-96, Kuwait- 1995, Singapore- 1998-2003; Odissi Nritya Sandhya, April 2003; Odissi Sandhya at the Maha Shivarathri Festival Feb 2003; Nritya Tarangani - A lecture demonstration on Indian Classical Dance at Overseas Family School (OFS), Singapore Oct 2002; Nritya Sandhya - An evening of Indian Classical Dance, by Chitra and her students, organized by the SIFAS Performing Arts Company. Odissi and Bharatanatyam - May 2001; Water Sculptures, a series of Music and dance events organized in support of multi racial harmony, organized by People's Association, Ministry of Culture, Singapore; The Exxon Mobil Campus Concert, at the National University of Singapore - Odissi and Bharatanatyam- Jan 2001; The India Culture Center and Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia; Inter Religious Harmony Program organized by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of Singapore; Thyagaraja Festival organized by the Shanmukhananda Sangeet Sabha etc.
Chitra Shankar has also executed in a number of ballets and group dances in different parts of India. To mention she has performed at Konark Festival - Orissa; Swachch Ganga Festival- Benares; Ganga Festival- Haridwar; Music Academy Festival- Madras; Shankaracharya Festival- Kalady. Chitra has also at the international stage. She was invited to perform at The 33rd Festival International Cervantino Mexico. Some lecture demonstration conducted by her are: Dance Performance and Lecture Demonstration organized by SPIC-MACAY in January 1996 at the Calicut Medical College, Kerala- Bharatanatyam; Performance and Lecture Demonstration at The National University of Singapore; Performance and Lecture Demonstration at The Kannagi School of Indian arts dance festival organized at Tokyo, Japan etc.
Acknowledging her talent she has been conferred several accolades throughout her professional dance career. She has been conferred the title of Natyashree by Ganesh Natyalaya, Delhi, Sep 99; the title of Shringar Mani at the Kal-ke-kalaakaar Dance and Music festival organised by the Sur Shringar Sansad in May 1995. The ICCR has empanelled her in their list of artists and acknowledged her as the Cultural Ambassador for India in various countries abroad. Apart from that she has won many accolades at different competition levels for her execution. Chitra Shankar has been selected as the 'Senior Choreographer for the World Dance Alliance event' in the year 2007. The award was conferred to her for 'the Building Bridges Asia Pacific program'. Her performances have shown at many occasions in Doordarshan. Two of the most notable amongst them are her performance at 'the Spirit of Freedom concert and the Malabar Mahotsav'. Chitra has also recorded her performance for the Roopa Vahini (Sri Lankan Television) and Doordarshan - on various occasions.
Her intense love for Dance led to the foundation of her own performing art centre, 'Chitrakala' in the year 1995. Through her organization she aims at promoting the Indian Art forms including: 'the performing arts- dance and music, the contemporary arts through textile design and manufacture with traditional Indian base, and the traditional arts -painting, sculpture and forms'. Today Chitra's institution 'Chitrakala' has expanded its operation outside India to Singapore. As Chitra Shankar says, "Art must continue to represent the current milieu of life, it must represent society in its current manifestations to continue to draw audiences and appreciation while contributing to social growth, peace and development." Chitra Shankar is currently residing at Singapore. Her students in Singapore and Japan have started representing her idea, which is the 'true universal appeal of Dance'.
(Last Updated on : 05-08-2014)
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