The Kala Nadam festival brought together many genres of dance

A wholesome treat with a sprinkling of Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Kathak was featured for the audience on the opening day of Kala Nadam 2013 fest. The Nrityantar ensemble presented a group choreography akin to Mallari of the Bharatanatyam genre. The ritualistic paraphernalia that accompanies a processional temple deity was depicted in detail -- here it was Lord Jagannath of Puri. Measured footwork to ukkutas, with graceful bends and moves in absolute sync to the tala marked the description of the deityThe chariot formation by the dancers was the highlight of this piece. The Konark Kantee flowed effortlessly, a sort of homage piece to the origin of Odissi, viz. the sculptures of the Konark Sun temple. This was marked by sculpturesque stances intermingled with pure footwork.A Jayadeva ashtapadi, “Yehi Madhava’ was a solo abhinaya-piece by Madhulita. The artiste displayed a gamut of emotions -- romantic displeasure, yearning, suspicion and affection. The group wrapped up the recital with a contemporary thematic presentation (guru Aruna Mohanty’s choreography), aptly titled, “Shrusti-O-Pralaya” which was actually a narrative and tribute to the victims of the super cyclone which hit Orissa. Though a difficult theme to enact through dance, the group was able to successfully portray the devastation. The peacock dance was quite fascinating to watch. The navarasa flowed through the theme ending in ‘bheebatsa’ and ‘shanta’. It was depicted with clarity and the digital scenic backdrop was redundant. The dancers were able to hold and handle the theme without taking recourse to digital props. Among the group, Anjali seemed to hold promise with her potential.

The Bharatanatyam by Punyah Dance Company was like an avalanche after the tranquil Odissi. The group chose to present ‘Krsna’ through Adi Sankara’s ‘Krsnashtakam’. The lyric with its innate rhythm fit the dance like a glove. Parshwanath Upadhye outdid the female dancers in vigour and versatility, though they were equally brilliant in deer fleeting footwork and stunning postures. Brisk jatis executed in a cut and dry fashion to an equally stylistic nattuvangam (pre-recorded) in the background juxtaposed the dramatic elements in episodes like Vasudeva carrying little Krsna across the mighty ocean. The combat between Kalindi and Krsna set to pure dance was excellent. The interpolation of ‘Kalari’ jumps could not be ignored though they merged with the stream of Bharatanatyam. The real infant could have been avoided since it struck a jarring note on the virtuosity of this dance medium. The tillana in Jaunpuri was brilliant exposition of laya and abhinaya.

The penchant for pre-recorded dance presentations by city-based artistes was offset by the inimitable Rani Khanam whose Kathak is to be watched rather than described. The live accompaniment on stage serves like an embellishment to any performance. The Arthanareeswar nritya was enticing with the dancer in ancient Kathak costume. The contrasting male and female principle that forms the crux of Ardhanareeswar was brought out with elan by Rani. The chakkars were less of skill show and more of rhythmic rounds keeping pace with the percussion. One could actually visualize the Shiva and Shakti through her abhinaya and footwork moves. Sadly, the tabla drowned the vocals.

The pure abhinaya piece to a ghazal by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, showed the nayika’s endless wait for her beloved as dawn after dawn just elapsed in unending search. Rani Khanam proved that experience is one of the hallmark of expertise.