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Narthaki _ the who's who of Indian dancers

Prakash M. Swamy

NEW YORK, July 7

NARTHAKI, a comprehensive directory of dancers and associates around the globe, has gone online. The comprehensive Web site of artistes, institutions and the network of people supporting the performing arts in India and abroad has become an instant hit, according to Anita Ratnam, internationally renowned dancer, choreographer and editor of the Web site (www.narthaki.com).

Anita told reporters here that it is classified in convenient categories, sections and pages and has the whole index and provision to access the pages one is interested in. Narthaki Online will also provide a link to one's Web site, or will design one fo r the customers, she said.

``The first peak is the hardest to scale. The first step of the journey is the most difficult. That was the experience for the first edition of `Narthaki', an endeavor that took two full years to accomplish. That initial effort, resulted in a book fully sold, international acclaim and applause. Now, four years later, this second avatar appears,'' she said.

Narthaki in its second incarnation is more comprehensive and detailed. It continues to reflect the astonishing growth of Indian classical dance around the world. A cursory glance through Narthaki will reveal the variety and plenitude of practitioners and promoters of this dance in distant places like Zambia, Hungary and South Africa.

The steady growth of supporting players who sustain this beautiful and vibrant Indian art form are reflected in the second edition which carries twice the data of the first version. All major classical dance styles have been listed with additional catego ries for other forms like Koodiyattam, Andhra Natyam and Nambiarkoothu.

The single largest growth has been in the category of contemporary dance, reflecting a growing movement that attracts new devotees, touches new horizons and carves out new pathways alongside the traditional form. Dance festivals, auditoriums, scholars, d ance publications and critics have been added.

Gathering information for this edition was more challenging than the earlier. The responsibility for accuracy has been much greater. The interminable changing of phone numbers in India created many upheavals in the research, Anita said.

``The apathy of the average Indian artiste in responding to a mail requesting details left us with the task of trying to contact almost everyone by telephone or telegram. Some senior teachers were actually reluctant to provide names of their students les t they be contacted and stolen by others,'' she said. ``In contrast, reactions from abroad were almost always instantaneous with our fax machine working overtime.''

Narthaki's design continues to reflect the colour, movement and vibrancy of Indian dance with a contemporary touch. Swati Bukshi, who created the art work for the first edition is also responsible for the visual appearance of this work.

Ultimately, the value of this book depends on its utility. Networking with the vast spread of individuals and institutions dedicated and connected to Indian dance all over the world is the main purpose of Narthaki.

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