International Women's Day

Each year Smitalay celebrates International Women's day. This annual event has been started in 1995. It is a celebration of womanhood through dance, theatre and music. It features performances by women, about women and for women. We plan to extend this beyond dance, theatre & music to puppetry, painting, ceramics, yoga etc.
  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998
  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • 2002
  • 2003
  • 2004
  • 2005
  • 2006
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
1995 - Women of Substance

"Women of Substance", an all women Odissi dance performance in which not only the dancers but even the accompanists were women including the percussion (Mardal) player, which is a rarity. The musicians were - Vocal : Urmila Kulkarni, Violin : Pandit, Sitar : Aparna Deodhar, Mardal: Poushali Mukherjee ( She is also an excellent dancer & teacher of the Odissi form, trained in dance & percussion by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra)

The choreography was by Jhelum Paranjape and the stage decor too was done by a woman - Bharati Salgaonkar. Choreographic pieces by Jhelum included a pallavi in raag jhinjhoti, an odiya abhinay, an abhinay based on a Marathi poem describing the emotions of Sita after she is banished by Ram.


1996 - The Story of Her Mother

"Tichya Aichi Goshta", the story of her mother, a dance theatre fusion, portraying the life of a strong charactered tamasha artiste, by Sushama Deshpande with Lavni dances by Jhelum Paranjape.

Jhelum Paranjape took special training for this from veteran Lavani teacher Guru Govindrao Nikam.

The main protagonist - the mother does not want her daughter to become a Lavani dancer like her - she educates her and makes her a journalist. This dance drama unfolds as an interview of the of the dancer mother taken by the journalist daughter.


1997 - Women in Jugalbandi


"Women In Jugalbandi", a Sitar-Sarod Jugalbandi by Aparna Deodhar (sitar) and Aboli Sulakhe(sarod) .

These two are sisters, born and brought up in a musical family. Since 1995, Aparna Deodhar has been accompanying Smitalay dancers for their performances.



1998 - A tribute to Sanjukta Panigrahi

A Tribute to Late Ms. Sanjukta Panigrahi, the greatest woman Odissi dancer of our times and perhaps for all times to come. Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and his senior disciples - Jhelum Paranjape, Debi Basu, Anandi Ramachandran, Daksha Mashruwala - participated in this performance which attracted a full house at Nehru Centre in Mumbai.
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra lighting the lamp
'Ekakar' being performed

A special dance piece was set by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra on the famous 'Vande Mataram'. Another piece 'Ekakar' depicted unity in diversity thru the eternal love of Krishna.

Guruji himself specially depicted Radha through ashtapadis from Jayadeva’s Geet Govind


1999 - Leelavati

"Leelavati", a dance ballet based on the mathematical treatise of 12th century mathematician and astronomer Bhaskaracharya. It depicts the intelligent daughter Leelavati who adeptly solves all problems posed by her father Bhaskaracharya. This was performed before an overflowing audience at Nehru Centre, Mumbai.


A human triangle is formed by a pillar (the boy standing) a peacock (the girl bending) a snake (the girl sitting) Father Bhaskaracharya looks on while daughter Leelavati solves the geometrical problem


2000 - Rasamanjari

"Rasamanjari", a unique performance unfolding a range of bhav-rasas (moods & emotions) of a woman in the three stages of her life - Mugdha, Madhya and Pragalbha - through Odissi dance composed to old hindi film songs.
Ms. Hema Malini lighting the lamp

2001 - Uma

Uma is based on a marathi poem by the late Vasant Bapat, which is inspired by Kalidas’s Kumarsambhav.Through Parvati, Kalidas gives us a unique insight into 'Stree-Shakti' the power, strength of a woman. Why should penance be the prerogative of men? A woman too can do it. Parvati (Uma) the daughter of Himalay, went through tough penance to achieve her goal. Uma's determination, her patience and perseverance, won her the love of Lord Shiva.
Our ballet 'Uma' is not just the same old story of Shiv-Parvati; it is the story of a woman unfazed by a man's anger, a woman strengthened by her own determination, a woman convinced that she is the inspiration to creation.


2002 - Naree

With "Naree" four male dancers paid tribute to Womanhood as a celebration of International Women's Day. Man and Woman are inseparable. Society is incomplete without either one. Through the ages, all our culture systems have forced women to look at the world from the male point of view; it is the men that women ought to please and who make the women their ideological standings. Amidst all this, art, especially theater and dance have traditionally been the only systems which force men to look at the world from a female perspective.

Through "Naree" this is what Smitalay exhibits. Men, with as much understanding portray women's emotions.


Shri Shankar Behara
depicted Radha in the Odissi Style.



Shri Kalamandalam C. Gopalkrishnan
portrayed Putana in the Kathakali style.


Shri Deepak Majumdar
portrayed Sita in the Bharat Natyam style



Late Shri Bireshwar Gautam
Depicted the Universal Mother in the Kathak style.


2003 - Narmada

Narmada is the story of a river.

The river is like a woman. Cutting through life as she heals its divides and gives it fullness, surging through time as she accords it meaning, cleansing the dirt of all those that come into her contact and yet remaining pure herself, reacting instinctively and furiously to outpourings of natural stimuli with floods of emotional upheaval, making the sediments of the lives around her into fertilizers for their own growth, the woman that is the very thread of all existence around her and yet who lives for each footstep in her tracks that she walks but for her own self and  her moksh.

Narmada River

Narmada is not just any other river. She is Narmadamaiya, mother of the tribals living on her banks.

The ballet Narmada is also about the woman who fought for the tribals living on the banks of the river Narmada.

2004 - Women of Substance
8th, 9th, 10th March 2004, Nehru Centre, Mumbai.

International Women's Day - 2004, was a colourful three day dance ballet festival presenting two ballets on each day. We called it "Women of Substance, 10 - A Dance Extravaganza". Smitalay first started celebrating the international women's day 10 years ago through the medium of performing arts.

Three groups from various parts of India were invited. Lasya headed by Pallavi Krishnan from Trichur, Shambhavi school of dance - headed by Vyjayanthi Kashi of Bangalore and OVM Centre headed by Sharmila Biswas from Kolkata. 

We were blessed to have our beloved Guruji present on all the three days of our festival.All the three days of the festival received an overwhelming response from the audience.

Guruji Inaugurating the festival (centre), Dr. Vaijayanthimala Bali (left), Jhelum Paranjape (right)

8th March 2004

Leelavati - Based on the famous treatise of Bhaskaracharya, the 12th century mathematician and astronomer, this dance ballet choreographed by Smitalay's director Jhelum Paranjape in Odissi style, has received international acclaim.

Salabhanjika - A dance ballet in Mohiniyattam style, choreographed by Pallavi Krishnan of "Lasya" (Trichur), this production is based on the moving story of Ahalya.

9th March 2004

Yagna - Set in the Kuchipudi style, choreographed by Vyjayanthi Kashi of the Shambhavi School of Dance (Bangalore), this ballet is a colourful depiction of the lives of different legendary women through ages.

Uma - This dance Ballet by Smitalay choreographed by Jhelum Paranjape is based on Kalidas's epic "Kumar Sambhav". Set in the Odissi style it is a unique interpretation of female strength depicted through the character of Parvati.

10th March 2004

Katha Surpanakha  - A dance ballet in the Odissi style choreographed by Sharmila Biswas of Odissi Vision and Movement Centre (Kolkata), this presentation on Surpanakha is unconventional in that it shows this hitherto negative character in a new positive light.

Narmada - In this ballet using the Odissi style and folk forms from western India, choreographer Jhelum Paranjape of Smitalay draws inspiration from an issue of today. The ballet is about the river Narmada and how in its many moods and transitions, it embodies all that is strong in a woman, and about the woman who fought for the tribals living on the banks of Narmada.

2005 - Bahinaai

Bahinaaiis a presentation of Bahinabai’s poetry in dance form. Bahinabai Choudhary  was born in Asode village in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra in 1880. Though illiterate in the worldly sense, she was a poet of tremendous sensitivity. She was in total control of her language, and thus put serious philosophical subjects simply, to make the common farmer enjoy and understand her poetry. It made her immortal in the annals of marathi literature and earned her a special place in the hearts of millions of marathi readers. Her poetry is not only the outcome of her poetic genius but also a song of the fields and farms, birds and animals, of the natural beauty in which she grew and of life in general. Her poetry is a philosophical exclamation of womanhood and the human mind.

2006 - Draupadi

This year, an artiste from of one of India ’s most empowered states joined us on Women’s Day, to present another facet of the spectrum that is womanhood, using the tenets of an ancient theatre tradition. Usha Nangiar, one of the most authentic and authoritative repositories of Nangiar Koothu, from Kerala, portrayed the character of Draupadi, the famous epitome of a righteous and strong-willed Indian woman, after extensive research.

Nangiar Koothu is an exclusive women's theatre tradition from Kerala, and Usha Nangiar has trained under Padmashree Ammanur Madhava Chakyar, one of the last outstanding Koodiyattam Gurus.

Smitalay’s troupe also gave a short presentation 'Durga' in the Odissi style, that was specially choreographed for the occasion.

2007 - Arpan

    In January of 2007, Guru Jhelum paranjape lost her father, Prof. S. S. Varde who was a trustee of Sane Guruji Arogya Mandir. This year's International women’s day was dedicated to him, hence “Arpan”.

    The late Sane Guruji’s patriotic & philosophical poems were set to dance as an offering (Arpan) to S. S. Varde.


2008 - Nrityaprabha

'Nrityaprabha' had odissi dance set to senior vocalist Dr. Prabha Atre’s bandishies. Choreographed & danced by Jhelum Paranjape. A very unique production, one of its kind. The same day, a book of memoirs “Goshta Zharyaachi” (The story of a stream) written by Mrs. Sudha Varde was released.


2009 - JalaSRI

JalaSRI is a prototype developed to restore nature's equilibrium and help man live in harmony with nature.

The technology and it's aspects are explained through dance and different situations. 

JalaSRI, through her various innovative methods teaches man how to survive incase of floods and famine, impure water conditions etc by making the best use of technology and nature, together. 


JalaSRI saving mankind

2010 - Savitri Vadate

Based on some fiery poems and letters written by Savitribai Phule, ‘Savitri Vadate - Savitri speaks’ is a dance theatre presentation by Suhita Thatte, Jhelum Paranjape and the Smitalay Team.

Smitalay’s production was not about her life and struggle. It portrayed her philosophy and thought, through her poems and letters, and showed one and all the passionate teacher and revolutionary leader that Savitribai was.

2011 - Geet Govind

.Rahda and Krishna
Guru Jhelum Paranjape and Guru Debi Basu, depicting Krishna and Radha

    Presented by Ms. Debi Basu, Ms. Jhelum Paranjape & the Smitalay dancers. The beautiful relationship that Radha & Krishna shared was depicted through ashtapadis from Jayadeva’s famous Geet Govind. Debi-di portrayed Radha while Jhelum tai portrayed Krishna.

Students of Smitalay performing 'Shrita kamala' from Geet Gobind


Read More: Asian Age

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Smitalay Students Dipali Tikam, Rupali Kadam and Apurva Dani awarded the 'Odissi Jyoti' title, at the Naveen Kalakar Festival, Bhubaneshwar.