It was an interesting tête-à-tête between Odissi and Kandiya.
‘Samhara,’ the artistic collaboration between Bangalore based Nrityagram dance ensemble and the Chitrasena dance company from Sri Lanka - One must congratulate the Music Academy for inviting this fantastic production as a part of their festival. A thin melody of flute in the dark hall kept the rasikas guessing. An invocatory ‘Arpanam’ to celebrate the feminine divine began the evening with Nrityagram’s Bijayini Satpathy, Surupa Sen and Pavithra Reddy emerging from silhouettes (created out of Lynne Fernandez’s exceptional lighting design). Exuding refinement par excellence they depicted the five elements in ritualistic offering to the Devi. As the percussion reached its upsurge, it seamlessly mingled with the drumming and out emerged the Kandiyan dancers - Thaji Dias and Mithilani Munasingha. From drumming to movement, this unique amalgamation felt like it was made for each other. Juxtaposing the thandava aspects of the Kandiyan dance and lasya characteristics of Odissi and exploring space to discover a common ground for convergence, their meticulous research reflected in the immaculate dance. It was interesting to see how the percussions from both styles also found that common link to have a rhythmic dialogue and effortlessly weave it into this exquisite tapestry.
In ‘Invoking Siva,’ Bijayini and Surupa presented a powerful choreographic interpretation of Ravana’s ‘Sivathandava Stotram’ sung effectively by Jateen Sahu. While their nritta got into the traditional Odissi dance vocabulary, their abhinayam to the melodious flute by Soumyaranjan Joshi brought in the much-needed stillness. In all this the musical virtuosity of the legendary Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi shone forth for the freshness in his compositions. With immense control over their movements, as they gripped the air around the stage and created those intense moments, phrasing their work as poetry in motion would be a severe understatement.
‘Krishan’s lament’ choreographed out of ‘Maamiyam’ from Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam came in the form of a solo by Surupa Sen. The concept of Viraham or desolation never seemed more attractive and intimate, thanks to Surupa’s implausible abhinayam. The final ‘Alap’ was yet another interesting tête-à-tête of movement and rhythm between both the dance forms, each wedged to their own traditional idiom. One could watch endlessly as the five dancers elevated the air to a remarkable crescendo. As the performance concluded, the rasikas gave the dancers a standing ovation.