Natya Vriksha's sumptuous World Dance Day 2012 celebration at the India International Centre saw an integrated featuring of dance through different channels — as performance, on film and in a seminar. A perfect curtain-raiser for the two-day event was Sankalp Meshram's film “Lasya Kavya” on dancer Alarmel Valli. Only one with the greatest admiration and respect for the art form and the artiste could have produced a work of such lyricism and poetic beauty — justifying the title in every way. The intellectual dimension, the painterly vision, the sensitivity to Nature, the quickening responses to music and sahitya and musicality of movement and the sheer joy of dance, along with that intimacy and warmth of communication which are so essentially Valli, are all caught in the film. And even as the camera hops from one aspect of the dancer to another, there is a seamless flow creating a neat weave. Nothing appears stilted, as it often does on camera, and the director, while conceptualising, is totally unobtrusive. The treatment of music is par excellence and with so many recorded voices being played in so many locations from temple to the outdoor and what have you, the voice level remains amazingly the same. And the bits chosen on film are so perfect in terms of starting and ending of tala that one feels it must come from one who knows music. However, one felt the film could be shortened by about 10 minutes to sustain interest at the same level.
What a delightfully graceful dancer Ayona Bhaduri is, the Nrityagram training followed by working now under Sharmila Biswas giving her a feel for Odissi which is unique! The lasya-soaked dancer's nritta to the Charukesi music by Debashish was enhanced in appeal by the bhav-replete enjoyment in uttering the ukkuta-s and mardal playing by Bhudhana Swain with Rajendra Kumar Swain providing vocal support and Srinibasa Satpathy on the melodious flute. “Shabda” choreographed by Sharmila Biswas when working with Dhanurdhar Reddy, the mridangam expert from Ganjam, and “Katha Shoorpanakha” with Prafulla Kar's lilting Odissi tunes — “Bahara Kara Antara” as the demon changes her appearance, treated to humiliation followed by a disfigured face — by leaving unsaid details of the actual meeting with the brothers playing with her feelings, makes the work more eloquent.
It was heartening to see young Amaljeet of Kalamandalam, a Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awardee, who hails from a traditional Kathakali background, featured in Natya Vriksha's Young Dancers' Festival. The scene from “Daksha Yagam” by Irayiman Tampi wherein Daksha and wife discover the conch shell from which emerges the child named Sati, while danced with élan and involvement, needed better singing. The second singer apart from distorting ragas like Kalyani and Bhimpalasi (or Dhanashree) would not allow the senior vocalist to sing. Such totally flat music was a pain to the ears and detracted from the recital.
Sadhya and NSD in a thrilling “No Boundaries” show at Abhimanch represented best the idea of dance as a world uniting force. Transcending hierarchical and insular classical/contemporary boundaries, the energy and bonhomie of the non-stop show for an hour and a quarter illustrated dance, past, present and future coming together in one message of togetherness. If the Chhau, Kathak, Kalari show outside the auditorium visualised by Goura Prema for Natya Nectar was fascinating in the sheer physical prowess of totally balanced performer bodies, the Mallakhamb with stunning postures, Dadhya's Tushar Kalia, Atul Jindal and Karan Kumar's Big Dance Centre and the feats of Shashank Dogra with Hari Narayan and group had the audience dancing internally to their quicksilver movements.
How able in holding movements unfolding very slowly and in synchronised dancing were the students of Salaam Baalak Trust working with Astad Deboo! And the puppets of Dadi Padamjee interacting with human dancers, seemed to become live creatures themselves! Congenially interwoven into this mesh were the dancers performing a kavutvam or nritta in Bharatanatyam (Saroja Vidyanathan), “pandadi” in Mohiniattam (Bharati Shivaji), Odissi pallavi (Madhavi Mudgal) and Om Shiva Tandav in Kathak (Shovana Narayan). Truly a joint effort excellently led by Santosh Nair.