Dharani Society's five-day festival in Kochi had much to offer to aficionados of dance and music.

Thanks to a plethora of cultural events, November has now become a month to look forward to for art lovers in Kochi.

Dharani Society's ‘Kalotsav,' a five-day fete in Kochi, began with a brilliant Bharatanatyam recital by Vyjayanthimala Bali. The legendary actor-dancer started her recital with a Ganapathi stotram in raga Natta, set to Adi tala, and moved on to a keerthanam in Jaganmohini, Roopaka tala, a composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi's. The lyrics describing Goddess Sivakami has the poet seeking her blessing. The excellent abhinaya of the artiste made it memorable.

Portrayal of a varnam in Kharaharapriya was brisk and neat, with abhinaya being the prominent feature. This was followed by a padam in Kurinji, a composition of Swati Tirunal. The Tarangini in Bagesri raga, composed by Narayana Teerthar, moved the audience as Dr. Vyjayanthimala proved that age does not limit performance skills. The recital came to an end with a Mangalam in Raga Vasantha.

Unusual theme

Day two was graced by a Hindustani mandolin recital by Pandit Sugato Bhaduri. The raga for the evening was Bhagesri and the young artiste won the rapt attention of the audience. The young talent slot in the evening was given to Lavanya Ananth.

The third day of the festival showcased an entirely different aspect of classical dance that was conceptualised by Anita Ratnam. The theme, taken from Nachiyar Tirumozhi, was an unusual one and the solo ballet by this accomplished artiste was praiseworthy. Excerpts from Jayadeva's ‘Gita Govinda,' sung by Carnatic vocalist O.S. Arun, was the centerpiece of the evening. His evocative rendering of ‘Priye Charusheele' for Dr. Anita's performance saw a seamless fusing of dance and music.

Nithyasree Mahadevan was the main artiste on the fourth day of the ‘Kalotsav.' Her power-packed performance was a treat for rasikas. The concert began with ‘Sidhivinayakam' in raga Shanmukhapriya. The main piece of the evening was the popular keerthana ‘Pakkala' in Kharaharapriya. Among the Tukkadas, the piece ‘Narayana Hari Narayana' in Ragamalika, and ‘Naan oru Vilayattu Bommaiya' need special mention for the sweetness of her rendering. The concert ended with a Thillana in Sindhubhairavi.

Kalakshetra Haripadman and Divya performed in the slot for young talents. Haripadman is a familiar face to art lovers in Kochi as he had played the role of Hanuman in a six-day long dance performance of the Ramayana, which was hosted by Dharani and Kalakshetra, Chennai, last year. The young couple stole the hearts of the audience with their excellent footwork and abhinaya.

The final day of the ‘Kalotsav' showcased the talents of students of Dharani. A Mohiniyattam recital by Shyamala Surendran and Dharani Ensemble was indeed a grand finale to the festival. The last and final piece was the story of Lord Ayyappa titled ‘That Twamasi,' brilliantly choreographed by Shyamala.

Kottakal Madhu needs special mention, as his soulful rendering of the padams helped in evoking the essence of the dance.

All the days of the fete were graced by Ambalapuzha Vijayakumar's bhakti-laden rendering of Sopana Sangeetham.