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Cultures blend on capital stage

- Fashion to dance, all from Japan

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 4: Strong ties were made stronger as a number of artistes from the Land of the Rising Sun converged on the state capital to merge their culture with that of Odisha.

At a weeklong cultural exchange programme, some of Japan’s finest performers interacted with local residents at various events across the city.

The programme, which came to an end yesterday, was named The Art Connection and organised by Japanese Odissi and contemporary dancer Masako Ono’s Mudra Foundation. The Art Connection is a prelude to a bigger celebration of Odisha’s culture — Odisha Biennale 2013.

The programme featured workshops by fashion designer Hirokazu Goh, film director Koto Nagata, photographer Takayasu Hattori, videographer Mitabi Kobayashi, media artist Kunihiko Matsuo, Butoh dancer Yuko Kominami, graphic designer Chiaki Aizawa, designer Nanako Koyama and film producer Koji Hirano. The events were organised at various educational centres in the city.

Masako performed Gangataranga as a Manglacharan, paying obeisance to Lord Shiv at the opening ceremony held at Utkal Mandap on November 27. Yuko Kominami charmed the audience with her Butoh performance. The popular Japanese dance form involves both playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, and extreme environments. It is traditionally performed with white body makeup and slow, hyper-controlled motion.

The final act of the opening ceremony was a colourful contemporary dance recital by Masako and her troupe. Their first act was based on the esoteric Buddha created by the elements of panchtatva, while the last one was based on a daydream that depicted the freewheeling nature of a human being when she is not bothered by loss or pain.

All the others from Japan taking part in the weeklong programme were also introduced to the audience.

“India and Japan have a history of cultural exchange, mostly because of the spread of Buddhism from India via China to Japan. Our cultures have a strong impact on each other. Odisha Biennale aims at promoting Odisha so that it is recognised as a cultural hub. We want to bring together tribal, folk, classical and contemporary art forms from all over the world under one roof,” said Masako.

An art-cum-photography exhibition, organised at Lalit Kala Akademi as part of the event, showcased several photographs by Takayasu Hattori.

From images captured at Puri beach to those at Mt Hakkaisan in Japan adorned the walls. The exhibition also had miscellaneous works by Japanese artistes such as a soft toys made of Odisha handloom saris, paper clippings in the shape of Odisha and so on.

The Art Connection was approved as an event to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and was supported by the consulate general of Japan, Calcutta.

The closing ceremony was held at the JD Centre of Art.