The Scottish town of Paisley has celebrated India’s 71st Independence Day in style by releasing a new video showing classical Indian dancers performing in front of local landmarks.
The four-minute-long film – called The Longing – stars performers from Abhinaya Glasgow Dance Academy and tells the story of a beautiful girl Rada who is waiting for her hero Kanan to return. It was mainly shot in the grounds of Paisley’s 850-year-old abbey, but also features a number of other major locations around the area.
Funding for the video came from Renfrewshire’s Culture, Heritage and Events Fund. Paisley is currently bidding to become the UK City of Culture 2021, having made the shortlist alongside Coventry, Stoke, Sunderland and Swansea.
Jean Cameron, Paisley 2021 bid director, said the film highlights close cultural ties that have existed for centuries.
She said: “Of course Paisley and India are already linked – with our weavers having mastered the production of the original teardrop-motif Kashmiri shawls in the 19th century and created a fashion symbol which spread the Paisley name around the world.
“We are delighted to be celebrating those links for the 21st century through our digital channels, and to be making our own contribution to the 70th anniversary of Indian independence celebrations.”
Esther Sunija, artistic director of Abhinaya Dance Academy, said the video raises awareness of the South Asian classical dance of Bharatanatyam – part of one of the eight ancient dance forms in India. This style is also one of the most popular, and sees performers make use of spectacular footwork, a fixed upper torso and a sophisticated vocabulary of hand and facial gestures.
Mrs Sunija, who was in change of choreography and also teaches dance classes in Paisley, said: “With help from Paisley 2021 we wanted to showcase the important buildings of Paisley to people around the world.
“We used the Paisley Pattern onto the sarees and rangoli, and also showed the beautiful venues of Paisley, especially the mill and riverside, to help us communicate the story behind the scene.”