The Centre for Indian Classical Dance (CICD) was established in Leicester in 1981 and was awarded charitable status in 1997. Founded by Nilima Devi with a view to promoting knowledge, understanding and appreciation for Indian dance and culture, the Centre provides a six year Diploma Course in Kathak. Hundreds of students have come to learn dance over the years, and a few very dedicated ones, eight in total so far, have gone the full distance to complete the Diploma.

Apart from consistent teaching at the Centre, much outreach work has been done in schools, colleges and community centres, and with various groups and organisations, to raise awareness and interest in Indian dance forms. As a result, there are now numerous different dance classes in Leicester and Leicestershire every week, taught by several dance tutors.

This has meant a change in the role of CICD. Where it once managed the grassroots level of teaching, it now accommodates advanced training for committed and gifted students who wish to take dance exams or prepare for performance work.

Since its establishment, the CICD has produced a string of well-received dance productions, such as The Ugly Duckling, Kathak-Katha, Triangle, Kathak Double Bill, Rainbow, Melory and Milap (Kathak-Odissi). All of these productions were toured and performed widely in the UK. As well as creating large-scale productions, the Centre has also been involved with many solo and group Kathak performances.

Some of CICD's students are now working as freelance amateurs for the community and schools in London, Nottingham, Derby, Birmingham, Leicester and the Yorkshire region. Two of the most talented students were awarded national scholarships by ADiTi in 1993 and 1995 respectively, allowing them to study Kathak full-time for one year in India.

In addition to its role as an institute of learning, the Centre has an archive of costumes, music and dance books, a rehearsal studio, information on dance artists and centres, extensive collections of leaflets, posters and newspaper cuttings, and much information on the theory and practice of Kathak and other Indian dance forms. CICD aims to engage in research on dance and to continue publishing work on Indian dance forms.

Various residency projects have been managed by CICD, involving internationally renowned Kathak artists from India such as Pandit Sundarlal, Pandit Durgalal, Kumudini Lakhia, Rohini Bhate and Jagdish Gangani. The Centre, in a collaborative project with Shruti Arts, has also invited the music composer Ashit Desai to the UK. These projects have given young dancers, teachers and dance artists in the UK the opportunity to take part in masterclass and choreography workshops with these experienced maestros. To celebrate Diwali in the Millennium, the Centre was awarded the Millennium Commission Grant through the City Council to produce a large scale production called "Vyom", the dance of the spheres. CICD commissioned a composer to produce music in India and a choreographer from India to choreograph the production. A total of 50 dance participants across Leicester and Leicestershire were involved in the production. This dance ballet was premiered at Leicester's Phoenix Theatre and was also performed at Loughborough Town Hall. Some extracts of "Vyom" have been performed for various school assemblies in Leicestershire. As part of the Year of the Artist awards scheme, CICD collaborated with Irish musicians and dancers to create dance items which transcend and cross boundaries and was toured within community colleges, Neighbourhood Centres and arts centres.

In August 2001 CICD organised a Kathak Summer School with musicians for serious students, focusing on the ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) Kathak syllabus programme. Twenty-one of the Kathak students who attended the Summer School will be taking the National Kathak exam on 27th/28th April 2002.

In autumn 2001, CICD presented KKsK (Kathak Kahe so Kathak) productions performed by Nilima Devi and musicians from India and UK and toured in the Midlands, the North of England and in London. In addition, a showcase performance as part of Diwali celebration was also performed by various dance groups from Leicester and Loughborough at Leicester's New Walk Museum.

As part of the New Works and Commissions grant of East Midlands Arts, CICD commissioned a choreographer to create a dance piece for Regional South Asian Dancers called "Five Senses" which was performed in autumn 2002.

CICD currently holds a three year development programme for South Asian Dance in the East Midlands and was recently awarded RALP funding from EMA, with which CICD will be able to execute even more exciting development programmes for South Asian dance in the region.


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