While Monisa Nayak's Kathak recital was brilliant, Gati's “All Warmed Up” provided a big opportunity for choreographers.
Rarely has one experienced a Kathak group recital so classically sound and comfortably attuned to Rabindra Sangeet as at the IIC, the event crafted by choreographer/dancer Monisa Nayak and Rabindra Sangeet expert Jayati Ghosh as part of Rabindra Jayanti celebrations for the year. Monisa, a disciple of Rajendra Gangani, exhibits unique sensitivity for visualising Kathak movement to genre of non-Kathak music.
Right from the striking entry of six, aesthetically turned out, white-costumed dancers in the invocatory “Nrityero Tale Tale” wherein one is introduced to Tagore's philosophy of multiple layers constituting one mystic entirety – of beauty, nature, love, devotion and cosmic rhythms, to the finale of “Aaj khela bhangaar khela” where the Lila of evolution with creation, preservation and destruction weaves an endless cycle, both dance conception and execution were praise worthy.
Providing an excellent musical framework were singers Jayati and her two assistants with sarod, keyboard and tabla accompaniment. Lending warm tones to the music was the Esraj accompaniment – the coordination replete with melody and feeling. “Akash bhora shoorja Tara” was followed by “Gahana Kusuma Kunja maje” from Bhanu Singher Padavali presented by three girls as gopis led by Radha lured by the beckoning music of Krishna's flute. “Aaj dakhina pavana” portrayed the intoxication of Nature in Spring. “Aaj Sakhi muhir muha” with the heavy pakhawaj rhythmic syllable nritta, echoed in the Esraj tones, had Monisha and her partner Dhirendra Tiwari in an evocative sringar sequence, the five count (khanda) rhythm, different from the largely tisragati format.
Pangs of separation and ache for the missing beloved in “Sakhi adhere akela gare mono manena” pictured Monisa in a fleeting solo sequence. The opportunity for teentala rendition, so basic to Kathak came in the lyric showing the abhisarika. The drut section with Kathak virtuosity set to a lehra with each of four dancers presenting quick nritta compositions presented the dance in full bloom, followed by a joyous song. Sharmishta Mukherjee's parhant and English introductions were in tune with the rest of the effort.
All warmed up
Gati's evening at Shri Ram Centre “All warmed up”, where music and silence were designed to suit the dance, was away from the usual dance fare. This Contemporary Dance event emerging at the end of Gati's ten-week summer dance residency assisting dance choreographers from different backgrounds traditional and contemporary, was unique in allowing dancers to engage in the process of dance creation, in an interactive, totally non-hierarchical ambience.
Apart from experienced mentors like Maya Rao, Amitesh Grover, Anusha Lall, David Zambrano representing the world of theatre, multimedia art, and dance both classical and innovative, the experience offered choreographers close interaction with lighting expert and video designer Jonathan O'Hear, whose inputs made a significant contribution to the entire effort.
With lights hanging from the ceiling at various levels, Lokesh Bhardwaj's ‘Rememory' captured a feel of flow of time and memory inspired, as a serious yoga practitioner, by analysis of mental activities in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra. Lokesh's pointing finger in Suci mudra and the clean geometry of movements contained his Bharatanatyam sensibilities. The total effect of the stage setting with this strong mover along with Justine McCarthy's moving score, smoothly flowing through snatches of Mayamalavagowla alap by Elango, Tibetan Buddhist chants, tanpura drone etc, was highly reflective.
Divya Vibha Sharma's “Don't be dotty”, serious under a funny and unpredictable veneer had the hilarious start with two dancers going on to a quiet finale, very inward looking, of Divya alone – as if after trying out all the prescribed, copy-cat model of life in a confused east-west mix, the individual at last finds her real self, with no elderly voices from outside prompting.
This critic found Shilpika Bordoloi's concept and designing of “Impermanence”, visualising a day in the ever-changing paradigms of life in urban areas rather confusing. The message of changing landscapes of “need, longing, utter foolishness, inherent beauty of the pre-occupation with holding on to time-moments” came in fits and starts despite the visual grace and aesthetics of a Manipuri walk or contrasting black and white tassels in hand.
Very minimalist and powerful was Rajyashree Ramamurthi's “In the light from Sharmila” inspired by Manipuri Satyagrahi Sharmila's longdrawn indefinite fast protesting against the civilian deaths caused in encounters. Music was by Colin Waurzyniak.