Lasyotsavam 2012, a three-day festival of dance in Thrissur, featured different dance forms of India that were performed by skilled exponents.
The third edition of Lasyotsavam, a dance festival in Thrissur, showcased different dance forms of India.
The three-day festival began with an elegant Odissi dance performed by Madhusmita Mohanty and Ramesh Ranjan Jena. Mangalacharan, which paid obeisance to Lord Jaganath of Puri, showed brief vignettes from Lord Krishna's life. Konark Kantee brought alive the sculpturesque poses of the ancient temples of Konark. Through elegant mudras and intricate footwork, the dancers exhibited the sheer joy of pure nritta. Navarasas were conveyed through the story of the Ramayana.
Each rasa was expressed through an episode, such as sringara for the first meeting between Rama and Sita, veera when Rama breaks the bow to win her hand, and so on. The appeal of this item lay in the perfect symmetry of poses and synchronisation between the dancers.
Pallavi Krishnan enthralled the audience with her Mohiniyattom recital, particularly her newly choreographed item, ‘Pingala,' which tells the story of a vain courtesan who adorns herself and waits, confident of her power to attract men.
Then one night, no one comes. Her haughtiness turns to anxiety and despair. In her darkest moment, she hears the chant of ‘Rama.' Realising that the pleasures of the flesh and pelf are fleeting, she commences on her spiritual journey. Pallavi's portrayal of the nayika bore evidence to her maturity as an an artiste.
A male dancer, that too, a non-Malayali, donning a female role in a Kathakali performance was a novel experience for rasikas. Prabal Gupta from Bangalore began with a Thodayam, a typical preliminary item. The oft- told story of the demoness Pootana was enacted by this artiste.
Kalakshetra alumni who performed a series of group dances lived up to the expectations of the audience. Haripadmam and his troupe from Chennai started their recital with Nandi Chol, where the rhythmic syllables of the mridangam are set to dance. ‘Sankara Sree Giri' extols Lord Shiva who dances on the Pradosha evening, accompanied on various musical instruments by the gods. Besmeared with ashes and adorned with the third eye, Lord Shiva dances with the ganas as the beautiful Chitrasabha hall resonates with the sound of anklets. Their next item was based on a combination of two Ashtapadis from the Geeta Govindam. A lovers' quarrel is in progress and Krishna tries his best to win over the sulking Radha. It was an excellent piece of abhinaya. Tillana in Raga Hindolam was bright and spirited.
Swati Sinha from Delhi presented a Kathak recital on the third day of the festival. Shiv Vandana, set to Raga Pilu and Taal Dadra, was a devotee's prayer to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to visit his humble home. Here, unlike in most contexts, Lord Shiva is addressed as Rangeela, the colourful one. Next, Swati went on to demonstrate the fast and intricate footwork and the breathtaking twirls that are the hallmark of Kathak.
One wished for a full-length performance from an artiste of her calibre and renown. The next item gave Swati an opportunity to showcase her competence in abhinaya. A thumri in Raga Des narrated the complaints of a gopika whose journey to the river Yamuna is interrupted by the playful Krishna.
The fete concluded with the famous musical theatre of Karnataka, ‘Yakshagana,' by the mandali (troupe) of Keremane Shivananda Hegde's family which has an 80-year-old association with this traditional art form. Since it is more of a theatrical form, the dancers themselves deliver dialogues. There is also background music sung by a group consisting of a bhagwata (singer) and percussionists.
This performance was based on the story of Ravana and his encounter with a legendary hero, Karthaveeryarjuna. Enraged by his brother Vibheeshana's praise of the hero, Ravana seeks him out for a battle. At that time, Karthaveeryarjuna was enjoying himself with his wives on the banks of the river Narmada. After a furious battle, Ravana is defeated and imprisoned.
The episode is full of sarcasm and witty dialogues. There are also topical references that the audience can equate with. Witty rejoinders and subtle abhinaya effectively constitute the theatrical element, while the mudras and dexterous foot work bring in the nritta aspect. With bright make-up, glittering costumes and head gear, musical and dancing interludes, Yakshagana is a veritable treat to the senses.
The festival was organised by Lasya Akademi of Mohiniyattom, Thrissur, in association with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
Keywords: Lasyotsavam 2012