The spotlight was on choreography at a national festival organised by Nrityalok in Kolkata.
The main attraction at the two-day choreographic festival was organised by Nrityalok, a classical dance organisation at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, Kolkata, were the performances by Srjan, Bhubaneswar, Anvesha Dance Company from Delhi and Kolkata’s Padatik Dance Centre.
A Bharatanatyam piece in Shanmukhapriya was presented by the Nrityalok repertory and dancer Sutapa Awon Pradhan titled Nrityangaharam.
Srjan, under the supervision of Guru Ratikanta Mohapatra, presented three Odissi numbers by a team of well-trained, competent dancers who for a moment did not falter a step or fall out of the designed choreographic patterns and formation. ‘
Bho Shambho,’ the Sanskrit prayer by Dayananda Saraswati, with Satyabrata Katha and choreographed by Ratikanta Mohapatra, was pacy, requiring technical virtuosity which the dancers executed energetically as also the Bhagavati Stotram ‘Jaya Bhagabati Devi’ the original composition by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra being re-choreographed by son Ratikanta, with vocal support by Satyabrata Katha. The various stances in the number offered scope for abhinaya, the best being that of ‘Ardhanareswara’ and ‘Mahisasuramardini’.
A new composition, ‘Bishwas,’ conceived and choreographed by Ratikanta, based on faith, was in the form of a dialogue between a devotee and the Divine. The text from Gurvanai represents the words of the devotee while Kabir’s doha represents that of the God. The soul-stirring piece had fine music by Lakshmikanta Palit and was sung by Ambarish Das. The choreography by Ratikanta translated the spiritual and philosophical ideas through movement and Odissi motifs.
The final sequence with swirling dervishes, was impressive, though the blue lighting combined with silver hues impaired visibility and reduced the appeal of an otherwise fine piece of choreography.
Padatik Dance Centre’s ‘Kshudhita Pashan – The Hungry Stones,’ one of Tagore’s best-known stories on Shahi Bagh, a 17 century palace constructed by Prince Khurram (later Emperor Shah Jahan), was choreographed with elements of Kathak by Sushmita Chatterjee under the guidance of Chetna Jalan. The music by Pandit Vijay Shankar and the trilingual narration at the background by Kunal Padhi were appealing.
The crowning glory of the evening was ‘Atto Rakto Keno’ by Anvesha Dance Theatre from Delhi; it was based on Tagore’s Visarjan. Conceived, directed and choreographed by Sangeeta Sharma, a senior disciple of the late Narendra Sharma, the piece had a movement vocabulary that explored strong body and limb stretches, jumps using peripheral spaces and effective floor translations especially for Jai Singha, supported by not Rabindra sangeet as one might expect but a wonderful combination of Hindustani ragas, fast paced electronic music and folksy tunes. The use of lights, props and appropriate sets enhanced the appeal of ‘Dhan Hai Dharti Mein’ and the appeal of Aparna.