Musicals like Swan Lake will develop ballet as an art form- Dinesh Singh, Navrasa Duende

A two-year-old company founded by an impassioned art enthusiast, Navrasa Duende is a manifestation of Dinesh B Singh’s penchant for all forms of art. An engineer who later went on to build his stake in India’s energy sector through thermal, solar and hydro power plant development, Singh realized that 'art' is what eventually drives his passion. Excited to bring world-renowned ballet production Swan Lake to India in September, he reveals what’s on the agenda.


Where did you get your inspiration to launch Navrasa Duende?

I was in Disneyland and was observing the kids there, they seemed absolutely thrilled with life. I will never forget those moments and understanding life from the perspective of a child. That entire campus from candies to movie theatres to cartoon characters to special rallies, this was a world any kid would love to be a part of. And then I thought how about I create something for teenagers and adults. A place where families of various age groups can walk in and find some form of art they all can enjoy. That’s when the idea of Navrasa Duende was seeded.

One of your first projects was a concert featuring Pandit Jasraj. Tell us about that.

To start with, our launch with Pundit Jasraj Ji was no easy task. The idea was to package the eight decades of his journey on his 87th birthday into one event. Classical music, I feel, is an acquired taste and we wanted the event to be enjoyable for young adults too. So we thought of bringing him closer to the audience in an interactive manner. At the end of the entire evening Pundit Jasraj took to the mike and said “This is exactly how it should be done”. It was a moment of pride but a bigger gratification was to see a packed house of 2000 people who were spell bound for three hours straight. 

Tell us about the classic movie festival you recently organized?

We wanted to bring international classical movies and this was the second major idea that came alive. Whenever I used to see movies I found that 80% of movies in popular format are fiction and we wanted to highlight that human emotions can also be entertaining. That encouraged us to host an international classical movies festival that showed movies of Hitchcock, Frank Capra and the likes, and went for two days. It was held at Sri Fort and based on the great response we have decided to make it an annual feature. 

You are bringing ballet production Swan Lake to India. Do we have an appetite for fine art form like ballet?

We believe that good art cuts across boundaries. At the same time we have to develop a process that identifies the taste for the audiences. Maybe with Swan Lake you will find elite and sophisticated audience and at the same time we are trying to reach out to institutions and young generation to contribute to and develop this form of art.

Where all will Swan Lake travel in India?

This year we have planned five shows of Swan Lake in Delhi on 22, 23 and 24 September 2017, although next year we will take it to Mumbai and have a multi city tour. There is a lot of effort involved in reaching out the audience at the initial stage and we are going ahead step by step. 

How many people are you expecting at Swan Lake?

There are five shows and we are expecting 10,000 people to attend across the three days.

How good is the infrastructure in India for such a show?

Infrastructure wise we need to have better venues in the country. In all forums we are trying to raise the issue that the government or big corporates should create such venues. For Swan Lake, we did a survey along with our partners at the Royal Russian Ballet and ultimately they found that Sri Fort is the best location in Delhi considering its large seating capacity and stage setup.

What is the scope of opportunity in India with respect to young budding artists?

Ballet is a performing art that comprises of dance, drama, music and stagecrafts. I come from theatre background myself and I believe that a good art form is stand alone as well as integrated. Kathak is among the oldest and most popular classical dance forms in the country and clear references of ballet can be seen in it. New forms of dance can trigger different forms, popularize it and take it to the masses. It is beautiful to see how young artists are getting involved with dance cultures and merging various forms of art to make it more appealing to the audience.

Are you going to create your own production where you can nurture young talent?

We do not want to take away the originality from dance forms but we want them to be influenced by other cultures. We are trying to bring in international collaborations in this pursuit. There are a lot of artists who travel from around the world to learn Indian dance forms and we have planned ahead in the future to nurture this talent and create productions of our own.

Do you present yourself as a full-service event agency?

We keep the conceptualizing in-house but usually prefer to bring an event agency on board for execution, technical aspects and production since we have not fully built that capability yet. We tied up with T.I.C for the Pandit Jasraj concert.

How do you monetize your events?

For now, we are not chasing numbers and most of what we earn is through ticket sales. We will resolved to not work with any sponsorship model that will could possibly take away from the soul of the event. We are open to sponsorship as long as it doesn’t change the format of the show and if the sponsor identifies itself with the values of the event.

What is the broad vision of Navrasa Duende?

We want to promote arts in all its forms and genres and present it as entertainment.

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