The Lasya Akademi of Mohiniattam has organised a festival of classical dance in Thrissur for the last four years. The artistic director Pallavi Krishnan is a Mohiniyattam exponent, teacher and choreographer. An alumnus of two prestigious art academies, Santiniketan (Viswa Bharati University) and Kerala Kalamandalam, she has also been trained by Gurus Bharati Shivaji and Kalamandalam Sugandhi.

The festival, curated by Krishnan, brings together a set of distinctive performers from different parts of the country. “This is an attempt to expand artistic references and contexts for the art-loving audience,” says Krishnan.

This year, Usha Nangiar, the marvellous Nangiar Koothu performer and disciple of the Kutiyattam maestro Guru Amanur Madhav Chakyar, will present Kamsavadham. Beyond the basic story of Kamsa’s killing, it is the controlled elaboration and intricate emotional shifts that lie at the heart of her artistry.

Krishnan will first present a traditional Mohinattam chollukettu to be followed by a Dashavatar duet with Kalamandalam Sheena. This is an attempt to dispel the notion that this lasya dominated form cannot accommodate the range and fullness that Dashavatar requires. She will end with Chaliye Kunjanamo, an unusual Swati Tirunal padam in Hindi.

Geeta Chandran, Bharatanatyam dancer and artistic director of Natya Vriksh, will revisit the finest pieces taught by her gurus. Appropriately enough in the city of the Vadakkunathan temple, she will present a varnam describing the qualities of Lord Shiva taught by her guru K.N. Dakshinammurthy and end with ‘Krishna nee begane baro’, that she learnt as an eight-year-old from her first guru Swarna Saraswathy. “These early lessons have remained with me and have evolved as my own frames of references changed. Going back to these spaces now is invigorating,” says Chandran.

Mumbai-based Kathak exponent Rajshree Shirke, who also heads the Lasya Centre for Dance Education and Research, will present some traditional bandishes on Ganpati. This will be followed by ‘phoolan lagi belariya’ (Kathak) in which her students describe the coming of spring. The main piece, ‘Ravan Mandodri Sanvaad’, will be presented in Kathakaar paddhati (narrative style) with Shirke as the main sutradhar and five other dancers.

Leading Kuchipudi dancer and teacher Jaikishore Mosalikanti who spent 20 years with Guru Vempatti Chinna Satyam will present a traditional Kuchipudi margam; a tarangam from Narayana Teertha’s Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini and a tillana by Balamurali Krishna. Odissi by Pitambar Biswal and group is also part of the festival.

Bottomline: Showcasing the different dance forms of India.


Where: Kerala Sangeet Nataka Akademi, Thrissur

When: February 15-17