The Dance India Asia Pacific or DIAP was launched in Singapore by Apsaras Arts and in collaboration with Milapfest, UK, with the vision to offer the delegates in Singapore several opportunities to enhance their knowledge, skills, and experience of their respective dance styles. In the form of sessions and interactions with renowned teachers, performers, and choreographers from India, it offers an exciting platform for locally-based students and teachers to engage with master practitioners through a training program that inspires and uplifts the Indian classical music and dance ecosystem in Singapore.
Aiming to explore the newer ways of collaboration to secure the future of arts and its educational opportunities, it attempts to help inspire new waves of dance students, artistes, and teachers, and help audiences around the world connect. Through a strongly-built global community for Indian dance across with its collaboration with organisations in the realms, it looks to offer insights into different cultures, styles of work, backgrounds, and interests.
Each of its formats– lecture-demonstrations, masterclasses, fringe events, showcases at Esplanade – looks to ensure optimum delivery to the delegate, participant, and audience members.
Since its inception in 2012, an array of cross-genre collaborations, personal relationships, new projects and new professionals have emerged from the eco-system. While it has extended the platform initially for home-grown talent, the impact of its work has shown its potential to have a bigger impact on Indian arts across the globe.
In 2021, with Dance India Asia Pacific being re-branded as Indian Performing Arts Convention (IPAC), it forayed into Australia in collaboration with Monash University, Melbourne.
In 2022, master classes in Bharatanatyam were conducted as part of IPAC in Sri Lanka and France.
A decade ago, the Dance India Asia Pacific set out on a journey, bringing the concept of Dance India to Singapore. Its idea was to enable the wider community of Indian classical dance to benefit through the programme of exchange, collaboration, learning, and inspiration. A diverse country like Singapore, which also boasts of an incredible artistic tradition, was the ideal location to find passionate students and professionals, all looking to develop their skills and experience.
Ever since then, the efforts by the DIAP have enriched and deepened the theoretical and practical knowledge of many students, teachers, and practitioners in Singapore and visiting delegates from the region.
The training program offered by DIAP is an amalgamation of carefully curated core-training modules, lecture demonstrations, masterclasses and culminating performances. It has evolved consistently with each passing year and serves as a powerful tool for serious and sustained development in performing arts.
With the DIAP now taking shape as the Indian Performing Arts Convention (IPAC), the core vision continues to be to charter new paths for Indian classical arts. Though the journey began with Bharatanatyam, the creative pursuits have broadened the horizon to include other classical dance forms like Kathak, Odissi, Hindustani and Carnatic music, apart from serving as a documentation and research centre.
The Indian Performing Arts Convention, or IPAC (formerly known as Dance India Asia Pacific, or DIAP), aims to impact the classical arts industry in Singapore at many levels. It looks at ways to facilitate the expansion of the mind and space, which is critical for growth by offering the faculty a growing base of followers. The format allows dancers to gain experience and contact beyond their classroom and get to know the dance world outside their cocoon. The convention provides dancers with a keen awareness of how a performing artiste approaches her/his art. By engaging with the faculty, the delegates gain insights on different aspects of performing and performance in contemporary times.
The format and sessions help identify these gaps such as knowledge on the Natyashastra, Abhinaya, where year after year, this knowledge is built on, layer by layer. To fill the knowledge gap, it is important to find the right people who can impart knowledge correctly. In multiple formats, the sessions curated bring on board stalwarts in the field to bridge the gap.
The delegates get the opportunity to form a network of contacts and forge artistic relationships. provides them the opportunity to build for themselves, as each delegate is from a different school. Beyond the faculty, the interactions between the delegates deepened the interest to collaborate, exchange ideas and even share their problems.
The forum has enabled the expansion of knowledge of theory and research topics beyond the classroom.
While the faculty belong to different banis, the idea has been to keep the initial learning intact, even as the delegates are taught the different ways in which they explore the art.
The certification has created opportunities for many dancers in Singapore to become instructors. an important acknowledgment of the upgrading of their skills and has provided them with a livelihood and opportunities to teach. As more teachers are trained, more students benefit and become empowered, and learning an Indian art form gains further traction.
Going beyond Bharatanatyam in recent times, dance forms like Kathak and Odissi have been included, the offerings in the other dance forms have triggered an interest among many to explore them in Singapore. With the introduction of music and book clubs in recent times, the convention has taken a huge step in expanding the boundaries within classical arts.
Over the last ten years, the masterclasses for Bharatanatyam at DIAP have been divided into Foundation, Intermediate, Advanced and Teachers modules with visiting faculty rotated to teach specific repertoire suitable to the age group and experience of the student delegates and specific teaching skills and techniques in imparting pedagogy for teachers’ training. Each year, the content is evaluated and reassessed to suit the needs of the cohort so that the delegates benefit thoroughly from the Masterclass immersion. Special electives were added in the later years for in-depth sessions on Abhinaya with Bragha Bessell for advanced students. Similarly, in Kathak and Odissi, depending on the cohort, the teaching is tailored to the delegates on hand. From Sancharis to technique and full repertoire, the Masterclasses have it all. Each year, all the cohorts learn enough to be able to prepare and perform a common repertoire from their DIAP learning.
Since 2014, DIAP witnessed the expansion of lecture-demonstrations beyond the core classes that were already a part of it. Expert scholars and dancers were invited to impart specialised knowledge and conduct these sessions. The sessions conducted so far comprise dance theatre for children by The Dhananjayans, choreography by Lakshmi Vishwanathan, the different facets of Abhinaya – from Satvika Abhinaya in Natyashastra by Pappu Venugopal Rao to the art of abhinaya by Priyadarsini Govind, Laya and Nattuvangam by Sheejith Krishna, Indian Dance in Temple Architecture and Temple Architecture by Chitra Madhavan, group choreography, the pedagogy of Indian folk dance, to name a few. In 2020, amid the pandemic, the sessions moved from in-person to webinar format where Carnatic Music and other auxiliary arts topics were introduced.
Throughout the years, specially curated showcases have had a following and have been box office sell-outs. Esplanade, Theatres on the Bay has been a long-standing collaborator with DIAP–IPAC for the past ten years. With a concerted focus on classical Indian dance, this joint programming initiative through their Raga series, created an outreach for dance audiences and an opportunity for the incoming faculty to present their current works. The live performances offer the delegates an exposure to the learnings in their classroom take the form on the stage. And the faculty receive the opportunity to showcase the latest of their repertoire to a new audience at a state-of-the-art venue. Artistic and creative content and quality are of the highest priority. Each performance doesn’t exceed 90 minutes and tickets are priced reasonably with an intent to be accessible for one and all.
Since 2013, Over the decade, a slew of fringe events organised in and around the arts community as part of DIAP to build touch points around the Island and create a spirit of the collective. Beginning with a panel discussion at the Goodman Arts Centre where art makers were invited to speak on ‘How can Bharatanatyam be relevant?’, the next year witnessed collaboration with the Indian Heritage Centre, Over the years the touchpoints have increased from dance book readings, Carnatic concerts, to new venue collaborators. With stalwarts like Vyjayanthimala Bali presiding over the event, endorsing DIAP, the events over the years have included exhibitions on the life of Bharatanatyam legend T Balasaraswati and a presentation by her grandson Aniruddha Knight. The momentum the events gained over the years have been sustained throughout the pandemic with digital offerings with two exclusive sessions with famed performers, dancer Alarmel Valli and actor-dancer Shobana
Beginning in 2018, this initiative was thought to be useful to create a platform to inspire dancers to choreograph their own work, an opportunity to incubate their ideas and thoughts.
The structure involves dedicating a DIAP faculty member to engage with the candidate throughout the process of conceptualisation, incubation, and development till final execution. The mentorship continues for 16-18 months for each candidate. Since 2018, nine delegates have benefited from this program from start to completion. A call for applications is organised annually during the DIAP window with certain set criteria such as experience in dance form exceeding a decade of training, stage performance experience, and an original concept idea.
The Residency gives dancers a blueprint on the makings of production – all the work that goes into creation, as a methodical process. The most significant contribution of this Residency to a dancer is ownership of their own creation, something they can call their own and is the impetus to start to create more and more original work. IPAC Residencies is the answer to ‘what next?’ after a dancer completes their Arangetram. These residencies are a platform for serious dancers pursuing dance beyond the classroom
In 2013, Apsaras Arts instituted an award to recognize lifetime achievement in the teaching of Indian classical dance in the Asia Pacific Region. Honouring teachers, ten dance teachers from Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have been recognized for their valuable contribution in propagating and nurturing Indian classical dance forms, during the annual IPAC inauguration events over the past decade.
This award recognises dancers who have achieved a certain standard and quality in their rigour and have presented the artform at the highest level in their live performances. The award also recognises dancers who continue to develop their craft through study, research, teaching methodology and adherence to the art form.
In 2016, to commemorate the fifth year anniversary of DIAP, two artistes were honoured for their dedication in giving their time, expertise and experience in the summer school in UK and Singapore. Kumudini Lakhia and Priyadarsini Govind shared their passion for Indian dance with much love and spirit with all the delegates wholeheartedly.
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