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Singapore NUS Students Present Cultural Programme

A group of 40 students and five teachers of the National University of Singapore (NUS) gave a colourful presentation of multi-national dances in Mysore on December 11. Their programme of selected dances and music was witnessed by a packed crowd at the Kala Mandira. It was earlier inaugurated by Mrs. Rani Satish, Karnataka's Minister of State for Kannada and Culture. Mr. D.B.Inamdar, Minister of State for Tourism, was the chief guest. After the performance, all the artistes were felicitated with mementoes by Mrs. Satish.

Earlier the group, who included Singapore's TV crew, visited tourist spots in Mysore, like the Mysore Palace and the Chamundi Hills. The were hosted a dinner by the hosts Sri Lalithakala Academy Foundation, Rotary Clubs of Mysore West and South East and the Department of Kannada and Culture, Karnataka Government, at Hotel Dasaprakash Paradise, on December 10.

Prof. Edwin Thamboo, Director of the Centre for the Arts (CFA), NUS, Mr. R.Shankaran, Project Cloordinator and Deputy General Manager, CFA, Mr. R.Hariharan and Mrs. Santha Bhaskar, also of the CFA, and Mr. B.S.S.Rao, Secretary, Sri Lalithakala Academy Foundation Trust, addressed a press conference at the hotel.

Prof. Thamboo said it was the troupe's first international tour. Their tour, starting from December 7 at Cochin and concluding on December 27 at Chennai, also covered performances at Mysore and Pondichery. They were making their tour in India as India and China had made powerful influences on Singapore, its art and culture. India was not a foreign country for them, more so South India which had made a powerful influence on Singapore's culture. "To come to India is to touch our roots, renew it. It is a great experience," he said and added, because of these influences the culture of Singapore was today a mix of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cultures. "Mysore has a special place for us," he added, saying, "though Bangalore is the State capital, Mysore is still the cultural capital. It has given eminent people like Novelists Raja Rao, R.K.Narayan and Prof. C.D.Narasimhaiah." it was high time to have an MoU with the Ministry of Culture of the Government of India, so that artistes of the two countries could interact more in the coming days.

Mr. Shankaran said the CFA had separate groups to teach Indian Dance, Mala Dance (Ilsa Tari), Chinese Dance, Chinese Orchestra and dance synergy. It was running over 20 groups and undergraduate students came there to learn different arts during their spare time. It was an extracurricular activity and not a degree programme. The Indian Dance group was promoting Indian music and art. Formed in 1977, the students were taught to perform Bharata Natyam and also explore dance fusions with other dance forms and music. The group's choreographer was Mrs. Santha Bhaskar, a graduate of the Chempakassary Nartakalayam in Kerala and had mastered both Bharata Natyam and Kathakalli.

Mr. Rao said the Mysore could build a bridge with Singapore. Whatever the money collected from the Mysore programme would go for the Rotary Clubs community service programmes.

Inaugurating the performance the next day evening, Mrs. Rani Satish said art is a universal concept. Those who experience art, come closer to God. This type of cultural exchange programmes help in having a network of art experiences, as different countries had different cultures, food habits and life styles. "We must try to find global peace through art," she said.
Prof. Thamboo said three great South Asian cultures - Islamic, Indian and Western - had made great influence on Singapore. "In a sense we are part of Asia, at the same time the group has something global as well to offer". Mr. Inamdar pointed out that no culture has evolved in isolation. The barrier of language and boundary is broken by art. Mr. Rao and Mr. K.Ramavittal Das, Chief Patron of the Foundation, addressed the spectators.

After the inauguration, the visiting young artistes presented about half a dozen dances, which included Chinese Instrumental with five song-pieces, a modern dance synergy, an Indian dance set to a Tamil song in the Bharata Natyam style, Chinese Mongolian Dance, and synergy of modern dance. The selected pieces of dance and music presented to the audience the rich and vibrant mix of Singapore's culture.

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