From Kuchipudi and other Asian performing arts at the IIC Experience to the Korean National Ballet’s Gala, Delhi audiences have had a rich time.

The Kuchipudi tradition is at the crossroads, having lost all its legendary gurus. Under the circumstances, Jaikishore Mosalikanti’s group presentation at the fountain lawns of the India International Centre, for the Centre’s week-long IIC Experience festival, was a reassurance — that one amongst the new generation of performer/teachers, while having the respect for his guru Vempati Chinna Satyam’s style, is finding within its contours the creative space for his own innovative ideas. Well researched and with literary inputs from scholars like Dr. Pappu Venugopal Rao, Mosalikanti’s sensitive feel for Carnatic classical music forms the bedrock of his inspiration for his dance inputs. Called “Sphoorti”, the programme had, as is usual in his recitals, its ideal take-off point in the most sophisticated musical accompaniment. Kuldeep M. Pai, apart from his mellifluous voice, sings with complete involvement, each passing emotion in the dance reflected in the evocative singing, which has as an additional factor — clear diction in the enunciation of sahitya. At a time when percussionists delight in overbearingly loud rhythmic play, B.P. Haribabu’s unobtrusive and musical mridangam tones enriched the melodic base. And the dulcet veena overtures by T. Bhavani Prasad made one wonder why dancers use so little of this instrument today. With the intended nattuvanar unable to make it from Chennai, Mosalikanti himself led with his crisp nattuvangam and when he was performing, dancer Aswathy Krishna substituted for him. The invocation, after the customary “Vanipraku” prayer song, was in homage to his guru, the remover of darkness. Visualised in a ragamalika/talamalika form, the passages in Khanda jati were particularly vivacious.

Mosalikanti’s dance composition along with the geometry of group arrangements, brings in solo spaces as a contrast and with excellently trained dancers Padmavani Mosalikanti, Shobha, Divyasena, Sandhya and Aswathy led by Mosalikanti himself, the well rehearsed dancing was flawless in profile, rhythm and technique. The joyous dance of Shiva, “Ananda-tandavam-ade” saw the dancers coming together and dispersing smoothly in the recomposed version of what was originally choreographed for the films by late Vempati Chinna Satyam. The group expression underlined the joy and wonderment of the Lord’s dance. Choosing a Balamurali composition in Lavangi, Divinity in the female manifestation as “Ananda-dayini” was visualised in a varnam format, the emphasis on the “Akaara, Pukaara, Makaara Roopini” combining creative dance images with clarity of Pai’s singing. Dancers moved easily between attitudes of devotee to Goddess, and after the jati, the charanam refrain “Shive Shive Shive…” became a tarangam with the plate dance — constantly changing combinations of dancers, some with feet balanced on the rim of the plate and others on the bare floor, ringing in the element of surprise, not allowing the dance narrative to become repetitive.

Fashioned in the manner of a patra pravesh daruvu in a Kuchipudi Kalapam, and full of expressional allure, Mosalikanti chose one of the Tyagaraja lyrics “Sringarinchukoni” in Surati from the opera “Nauka Charitram” to portray gopis in different types of decorated attire, each in her own way showing her adoration for Krishna, excited at the prospect of a boat ride with him. To end on a high note was the Balamurali tillana in Kalyani, a rare composition where scale changes or shruti bheda lead to the emergence of several other ragas like Shankarabharanam, Mohanam, Hindolam and Kanada. The item started with rhythm expressed through quiet eye and neck movements to flower out in rich movements and rhythmic combinations. Elegantly turned out, the neat but not ostentatious costumes were in good taste.

There were other glimpses of Asian dances. The traditional music of Korea by the Union City Philharmonic orchestra comprising oboe, daeguem, ahjang, and piano was a delight. But the contemporary dance by Shincha Hong, perhaps with more detailed introduction about the item representing the acute after-war depression which set in, would have communicated better — for what almost looked like non-movement with the dancer hardly moving, was not understood. The music of the Philippines, with the excellent soprano Moscardon Maigue’s medley of Pilipino songs, was enjoyed a great deal as was the other traditional music on banduria, octavina and guitar along with colourful traditional folk dances by Cherry Ylanan, Villanueva and John Luigi B. Millamina of the Ramon Obusan Folkloric group.

Korean National Ballet

At the Siri Fort, the Korean National Ballet’s Gala in India, with a massive audience turnout, was one of the finest Ballet presentations seen in recent times in the Capital. Adagio from “Prince Hodong” with Young-jae Jung and Li-hoe Kim reflected more of the modern technique. But the Grand Pas de Deux of “Don Quixote” had all the classical Ballet virtuosity in the dance of Ki-wan Kim with his seemingly easy one hand lift of the ballerina Ji-young Jung, and his mid-air turns, and ballerina Ji-Young‘s fan dance and 32 turns. The best was yet to come in Act 2 of “Giselle”, where the spectacle of the groups and the dancing of the duo Seul-ki Park and the male dancer Young-cheol Lee were, to say the least, high poetic. The ethereal nymph like figures and the fluidity of gestures and movement with the use of points made one feel it was a dream dance. The smooth lifts and effortlessness of the dance had to be seen to be believed. The way the women metamorphosed and the snow white costumes with the fantastic coordination and symmetry in the group arrangements added up to a feel of unreality.

Not in the same class as “Don Quixote” or “Giselle”, (originally choreographed by Marius Petipa, with the music of Minkus ), Yuri Grigorovich’s choreography of the drum dance from “La Bayadere” was presented.