Author Jaya Mehta, Illustrator Suruba Natalia and culture curator Swaati ChattopadhyayThe World Book Fair Children’s pavilion hosted a fascinating, multi-disciplinary event by internationally acclaimed author-dancer Jaya Mehta and illustrator Suruba Natalia from Moldova. They shared with children, parents, and educators their creative journey of making the book, ‘Nritya Katha – Indian Dance stories for Children’. Published by The National Book Trust of India, the book brings alive the rich culture of different states of India, through the journey of a child discovering various Indian dance forms.

Culture curator Swati Chattopadhyay asked the author about her motivation to create a unique storybook about India’s dance forms for children. Jaya Mehta expressed that India with its rich heritage of eight classical dance forms and hundreds of regional dance forms needed a storybook that deeply connected children to Indian dance forms as a means of culture connect and personal discovery. The bigger role of classical dance, the author explained, is to connect children to the rich architecture, sculpture, crafts, costumes, paintings, and music of each state. Jaya Mehta also illustrated how these vibrant connections of dance and culture, enable children to develop powerful inter-disciplinary thinking and rich cultural pride.

Jaya Mehta shared the fascinating process of how a dance form, like Manipuri or Kathakali, was first understood through an exchange of ideas between the author and illustrator. Over the pandemic period, they shared pictures and videos of each dance form and discussed the details to develop through illustration. Suruba Natalia demonstrated the process by which an illustrator created children’s book illustrations that are rich in colors, feeling, tactile quality, and imagination. She also conducted a drawing session for children at the event, showing how they can visualize a character from a story.

The artist and illustrator insisted that the imagination of a child was their strongest faculty, in which there is a feeling of play. It is imagination and feeling richly that lead a child towards creativity and discovery. They encouraged parents to allow their children to deeply engage in an art form, like writing, painting, music, or dance, so that this superpower of imagination becomes heightened.

Children and parents at the event felt deeply inspired to pursue the path of imagination and learned much about the process of how a book takes shape between an author, illustrator, and designer. The book ‘Nritya Katha – Indian Dance stories for Children’, gave the audience a fascinating glimpse into creative processes that shape a unique book and the vast kaleidoscope depth of Indian classical dance forms.