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Updated: September 21, 2009 15:29 IST

Of culture and creativity

SHYAMHARI CHAKRA
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Beauty in motion; Priya Venkatraman
Photo: N. Sridharan
The Hindu Beauty in motion; Priya Venkatraman Photo: N. Sridharan

Sanjukta Panigrahi’s memorial festival was marked by talented performances.

Ever since legendary Odissi dancer Sanjukta Panigrahi passed away, Bhubaneswar Music Circle, the four-and-half-decade old cultural forum with which she was associated, has hosted the annual Sanjukta Panigrahi Memorial Dance Festival in Bhubaneswar.

The two-day event at Rabindra Mandap featured three young soloists — Shallu Jindal (Kuchipudi), Bimbavati Devi (Manipuri) and Priya Venkatraman (Bharatanatyam) — besides veteran Odissi danseuse Sangeeta Dash, the best-known dancer of the distinct Debaprasad Das gharana. The festival also showcased an Odissi dance ballet but it had very little creativity in choreography or beauty in presentation.

New Delhi-based Priya was the find of the festival. Trained under three stalwarts — Saroja Vaidyanathan, Kanaka Srinivasan and Leela Samson — her strength lies in her spontaneity and internalisation of her art. As she danced, she radiated the sheer joy of dancing. Priya enacted different characteristics of Devi (the goddess) and of Krishna, who is worshipped as the saviour of the universe, in three of her recitals with an excellent feel of divinity.

Winner of the recently-conferred Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Prativa (young talent) Award from Sangeet Natak Akademi for Manipuri dance, Bimbavati Devi is the daughter and disciple of well-known dancer couple late Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi. The seasoned dancer presented her parents’ choreographic compositions: Radha rupa varnan (description of Radh’s beauty), Krishna Nartan (dance of Krishna) and Nan Churi (stealing of butter) based on the childhood pranks of the kid Krishna. The dancer was not at her best during the evening and appeared mechanical at times.

Shallu Jindal has the fortune of being trained under the celebrated Kuchipudi dancer couple Raja and Radha Reddy. She was further fortunate to perform with live music unlike the rest of the artistes in the festival. The exclusive choreographic compositions of her gurus that she presented during her recital deserve special mention. The Jatti Kattu in particular was a wonderful tapestry of beats and rhythmic patterns. Vocalist Sudha Raghuraman’s soul-stirring singing deserves mention. The dancer did her best to demonstrate her commitment to perfection but in the process she appeared laboured at times, both in pure and expressional dance numbers.

Words would not suffice to describe the degree of divinity, ecstasy and intense emotional expressions with which Odissi dancer Sangeeta Dash staged her show Nayika during the concluding evening. Nayika depicted three stages in a woman’s life. In the first stage, she is young and loves dancing in the rains, executed through the dancer’s brilliantly choreographed piece, Madhyamadi pallabi. The girl grows up and as a woman, she yearns for her man but is upset with him for the lies he tells her. She is a kalahantarita nayika who soon transforms into a khandita nayika. Sangeeta chose an astapadi from Jayadev’s famous Geet Govind, Yahi Madhab, Yahi Keshav, choreographed by late Debaprasad to visualize the segment.

Sangeeta concluded with Suryastakam, a classic composition of her guru Durga Charan Ranbir, to show how the woman has grown mature and wiser. She realises that the real love is experienced not from a human relationship but by surrendering to the God.

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