The festival of Hemantika is celebrated by the renowned Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, otherwise known as SBDC every November for the last 8 years. This festival celebrates the “ identity of the classical dancers enhancing and incorporating new and different dance forms into their pieces while giving it a classical touch” as she so beautifully put it. I was lucky enough to have the chance to attend this performance of the student showcase on the 6th of November and it was an absolutely breathtaking experience for not just the audience but the dancers as well. 


The Hemantika festival is celebrated over two to three days of exhilarating and unique stories told through the kathakers ( storytellers) from SBDC. i was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a conversation over the phone with Sujata Banerjee herself who is the life of this festival. 

She told me the theme this year had been journeys to mark all of the significant historical journeys that had happened in 2022.  This year marked 75 years of the partition in India post British Raj  when the country was split into 2 - India and Pakistan. As an Indian herself, Sujata Didi felt that it was such a significant part of Asian history and a great journey for not only those who had to travel across the borders to the “ correct side” but the generations that have felt the impact of this great historical event. In addition, 2022 also marked 50 years of the Uganda Asian Expulsion where millions of Asians had to make the journey due to their displacement from their safe haven to a world of the unknown, seeking refuge. 

As Sujata Banerjee put it, it was important to commemorate those significant historical events as it shaped the asian culture to what it is today. She stated that life is a personal journey: everyone is developing and adapting not only as dancers but as normal everyday people. Everyone goes through a different journey no matter how opposite they may be to another but they are all journeys. Life. 


I was intrigued by what inspired Sujata Didi to embark on this artistic journey of Hemantika  herself and she told me that she always wanted to give a platform to dance and especially classical dance as an art in Britain where it was largely unknown. Hemantika, as she explained to me, is celebrated in the month of Hemant in the Indian calendar where there is a season of late autumn - a season specific to India itself. The Hemantika festival originally had started to be celebrated in november or Hemant as a student showcase however over the years she described her company had been expanding steadily and organically on a journey of her artistic vision. She said that for her success in the company is not the number of students they have or how much recognition they receive but rather success to Sujata Banerjee is seeing her students thrive and develop - she has 10 students who are now professionals pursuing dance as a career and has many ex students still supporting her in the company running their own dance schools and spreading the message of kathak in Britain. 

I would like to finish on a quote from Sujata Banerjee describing Hemantika: Hemantika is not just a performance, it's an identity, a collective identity of our classical roots and history as well as the new developments in constantly changing dance. Dance is not a hobby or a sport. It's an identity.