Aspiring artists exhibited their talent in New Delhi.

This is the time of the year when dance institutions, ever proliferating, celebrate their annual day giving aspiring youngsters a chance to participate in a stage presentation. Attended by adoring parents of participants, these events predictably present varying standards.

At the less known, but surprisingly well equipped Civil Services auditorium in Satya Marg, students of Asavari, the Kathak institution headed by dancer Shovana Narayan took the stage in a performance to celebrate, apart from the in-house annual day, the World Dance Day. The high point was a Kathak homage to the Devi in different manifestations — Saraswati, Parvati, Annapoorna, Lakshmi and Shodashi in that order. Set to Roopak tala, Jhap tala, Tritala, Ektali of 12 matras, Panchamsavari of 15 matras, the dance visualisation by Shovana had taken pains to inject a lot of rhythmic variety, along with verse passages from various sources like Devi Suktam, Dhrupad lyric “Poojan Chali Mahadev”, kavits, apart from lyrics like “Jago tum...” in Bhairavi.

Perhaps, in a passage like the one on Annapoorna, a little less of the virtuosity angle would have brought out the giving nature of the Goddess more tellingly, though on the whole the dancers seemed to revel in the nritta hype. Costumes were elegant with participants moving with grace and precision. But the crew for music, again composed in a plethora of scores like Malkauns, Rageswari, Vilaskhani Todi, Bageshwari, Bhairavi, should have displayed greater sur control and togetherness, without vocalist and every instrumentalist in an exercise of outdoing the others in volume — the resulting decibel level, along with a flute which was not in sur, taking away from the melodic sweetness.

The little ones enjoyed themselves, reciting the bols and executing simple tukras. All age groups, with local school students also participating in the tarana finale in Malkauns, clearly derived joy out of the entire evening.

Set to different music

The Kuchipudi school of the Reddys, Natya Tarangini, also presented a two-day celebration of their annual day at two venues — the Kamani in Delhi and Gurgaon’s Epicentre. One appreciated the youngest groups neatly reciting Natya Sastra verses, demonstrating all the hastas. The dance drama finale portrayed Krishna as butter thief, as vanquisher of the serpent Kaliya dancing on his hood, and in his role of teaching the gopis a lesson in curbing the ego, by stealthily hiding their clothes while they are bathing in the Yamuna. Set to Hindi lyrics except for the Nattai tillana of Kalingamardana from “Krishnaleela Tarangini”, with a fine vocalist in the Hindustani singer Aditi Sharma, and very simple choreography suiting still-evolving dancers, the participants showed involvement. It was an adventurous exercise with Kuchipudi rendered to Hindustani music and also to an English song based on a verse from the Bible!

With the more familiar part of the programme based on a Neelambari Devi stuti, guru vandana, Rajeshri sabdam in praise of Pratapa Simha, rendered to Raja Reddy’s brave attempt as Carnatic vocalist, a role he is unequipped for by training (time the institution acquired the services of a trained Carnatic singer), the evening missed the real Kuchipudi flavour derived from the trained singer’s peppy music.

Guru Pranam Utsav

Vaishali Kala Kendra’s annual Guru Pranam Utsav as homage to Srinath Raut, at the Habitat, had its wisest programme designing in the music of Guru Gopal Panda and his daughter Sangeeta. The latter with her rich voice is ideal for Odissi dance though unharnessed by dancers. The guru stuti opening the dance homage, presented by Vaishali disciples on the second evening, was neat.

Ritu Samhar and Sthayee Nritya by students of Ranjana Gauhar of Utsav Academy also presented a dance coordination.

Students of Jyoti Shrivastava, Isha Das and Varsha Das presenting the saabhinaya pallavi, need developing a more impeccable laya understanding. The same goes for the Shiv Tandav by Rahul Varshney whose fine presence and balanced movements need to follow with exactitude the rhythmic pace set by the music. That perfect measurement of time is absent. Jyoti Shrivastava in the ashtapadi showed her quality as a dancer.

The disappointment was Ileana Citaristi whose latest choreography of a new pallavi needs a lot more work to iron out the smudged rhythmic and angic visualisation. Both this and the abhinaya item revolving round the agonised mind of Gandhari (which is pregnant with interpretative possibilities), whose blessings before the Kurukshetra war are sought by eldest son Duryodhana, lacked rehearsed perfection. Ileana at this stage of her career cannot present such unfinished work.

Post script

Titles and awards are always very flattering and nobody cavils at good work being recognised. But where are the days when the Padma awardees, strictly abiding by the rules laid down, never used these titles before one’s name? Now for a dancer the title comes before the name! Times change!