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Indian Dance Drama Festival takes place in Conjunction with World Dance Day

The 9th American Natya Festival (ANF) will be celebrated in conjunction with World Dance Day in St. Louis, April 28-30 at Clayton High School's Auditorium. ANF is the only Indian dance drama festival in the United States and is organized by St. Louis-based Soorya Performing Arts. The festival's director, Guru Prasanna Kasthuri, enjoys the efforts to make this dream happen each year, allowing the opportunity to perform and project their ideas beyond the city of St. Louis. "It's a challenge to invite groups of dance drama troupes from across the country to a city of our size. Yet we believe in the art-loving nature of the Indian community and feel they will support this unique venture".

This festival is the first and only Indian Classical Dance Drama Festival in the country and is an annual platform to create, discuss, present works, and showcase new ideas in order to increase awareness and enjoyment of this particular dance style. This year they will feature 12 groups representing major cities from coast to coast presenting 60-70 minute productions with themes spanning across mythology, history and social issues. Soorya Performing Arts will begin the festival with its own traditional Sanskrit production, Subhadra Parinaya. Guru Kasthuri previously produced this performance in 1991 with the support of Soleil d'Or out of Paris, France. He hopes the re-release of this particular dance drama will resonate with audiences of the Midwest, as it did in Paris. A full list of all productions and dance troupes in the festival can be found here.

On Saturday, the festival will honor two of the most prominent teachers in the country: Dr. Rathna Kumar of Houston and Guru Sudha Chandrashekar of Detroit. ANF humbly awards them the "Life Time Achievement Award," which includes $1000 and a plaque. Both honorees have dance productions featured in the festival.

NATYA, or the North American Testing for Young Artists, is an independent group of highly acclaimed Gurus of Indian performing arts, who test and certify the quality of Indian classical performing arts through several levels of tests and exams. NATYA is based in Ballwin, MO and focuses on classical Indian dances only with exams held in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey, Detroit, Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Antonio, Houston, San Jose.

In addition to the evening performances of dance dramas, Soorya Performing Arts is hosting "American Natya Idol," a national level dance competition held only here in St. Louis.

Tickets for the three-day festival at Clayton High School Auditorium (#1 Mark Twain Circle, Clayton, 63015) can be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets. More details on the festival can be found at www.natya.org.

This festival is supported by parents of Soorya Dance and Music School, Missouri Arts Commission, Regional Arts Commission, Bright way Insurance, US Wide Financials and other organizations.

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