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Planning a Festival of Ancient Dance Bhaktapur, Nepal

Bhaktapur, Nepal

Objective: To meet with The Heritage Group of Bhaktapur, organizers of the highly successful "Bhaktapur Festival 1997" and the WWF "26 Spiritual Gifts" event of 2000 at which the King and Queen of Nepal, Prince Philip and other world dignitaries attended, to develop plans for a Festival of Ancient Dance in Bhaktapur; to carry out field research in Kathmandu Valley among a wide spectrum of society about the feasibility and advisability of the concept.

Result: Overwhelmingly positive. There is passionate enthusiasm for the idea in all quarters. The Heritage Group is uniquely poised to undertake such a project; has demonstrated cultural vision around the world rarity which Bhaktapur is, and have proposed a working model using the Heritage Group, the Nepal Travel Bureau, and the Royal Academy of Art, under my general direction.

It is hard to explain to westerners the heartfelt meaning and affection which dance has for Nepalis. Unlike India, Nepalese dance traditions are not theatrical, but ritual and local. Nepal could use something uplifting and world-class right now, and Nepal deserves a chance to demonstrate to the world its ability to develop a new cultural eco-tourism, just as it has demonstrated its ability for trekking tourism.

Rajendra Shrestra, Kathmandu

Challenges: Political instability, maoist guerilla activity, poor rural development, limited experience in large-scale multi-media events, nascent digital development, and problematic international image. In addition, the transposition of dances from remote regions to another location has never been attempted, nor has the isolation of dance as a genre apart from ritual activity been put forward. Further, balancing and uniting the ancient intangible treasures of Nepal with ultra-modern media requires unique sensitivities and good will.

My research in Nepal resulted in modifying original plans for a World festival of ancient dance to an all-Nepal Festival, leading toward an all-Himalaya Festival of Ancient Dance and beyond to Bhaktapur as a site for rare performances. This decision was made in response to the needs of Nepal for infrastructure building and symbols of cultural cohesion.

Follow-up: I am developing a prospectus for a Festival of Ancient Dance Bhaktapur with the Heritage Group to be used for fundraising and awareness. We are aiming for a 2003 Autumn debut festival representing the collected dances of Nepal.

Excellent email communication is sustained, advice from many quarters: diplomatic, political, publishing, artistic, entrepreneurial, and new media is regular and eager.

New media colleagues in London have been specifically invited to contribute ideas and involvement.


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back: Preliminary Dance Research in Pakistan; Lahore, Karachi

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