Ayona Bhaduri was slow yet lively and graceful in her responses and her presentation of ‘Katha Soorpanaka’ was laudable.

Young, confident, vibrant, graceful and expressive, are some adjectives one might use to describe Odissi dancer Ayona Bhaduri. She is a graduate from Nrityagram, Bangalore, and is presently in Kolkata, with dancer-choreographer Sharmila Biswas, as a senior repertory dancer and administrator.

Ayona’s hour-long show at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan festival was a double bill with poetry unfolding at two levels, visual and aural. The dancer was accompanied by a live orchestra of well-known musicians – Rajendra Kumar Swain (vocal), Buddhanath Swain (pakhawaj), Srinibas Satpathy (flute) and Sanjib Kunda (violin) – whose melody wove magic in the air. The flautist alternated between the deeper notes of a long bansuri and the sharper tone of a thinner, shorter flute to good effect.

An invocation to Jagannath and to Mathangi (Manikhya Veenam sloka), a choreography of guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, was followed by Swara Bilas, an exploration of Raag Charukesi in the Odissi technique, composed by Debashish Sarkar and choreographed by Sharmila Biswas.

Ayona was slow, sensuous and graceful in her response to the slowly unfolding raga pattern. With minimal percussion (soft cymbals), the mood was light and airy. Despite the fact that the sensuality of the dance style lends itself beautifully to this contemporary take on the traditional Pallavi, one would have preferred to see some deep chauka and sharper technique and footwork. It is the strong technicals that finally make an impression.

Ayona wound up with a lively ‘Katha Soorpanaka,’ composed by Prafulla Kar and choreographed by Sharmila Biswas, which chronicled the transition of Soorpanaka in the Ramayana from a proud princess to a transformed one, when she changes her form and face to attract Rama and Lakshmana, to a disfigured, raging demoness when Lakshmana defaces her. Kudos to the choreographic sophistication that said everything without saying anything, and Ayona excelled in this cleverness.

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Rupa SrikanthDecember 27, 2011