The performances at the Sharangdev Samaroh in Aurangabad.

Deepti Bhalla’s evening performance of ‘Dundhubi Natyam’ set to Raja Vidhyadhara tala, describing the rhythmic sounds of Shiva’s drum, with ‘jaati’ combinations woven in, using the musical statement of flowing Ganga as a bridge and refrain, showed exceptional choreographic imagination and an uplifting quality brought to bear on the rendition. This number has evolved amazingly over time. Equally moving was the Shabda Chali homage to Ganesh, “Paapa bhaya haranam…” in Hamsadhwani score by Deepti’s mother Leela Omcherry. And melodious Mohanam without needless ornamentation in the singing by Gita Rajendran was the ashtapadi “Tava virahe vanamali” with the sakhi urging Radha to join Krishna with Deepti’s very clear cut, restrained abhinaya.

Starting with Alaya Sampradayam of Vilasini Natyam with a Choornika to Vishnu, followed by worship to the ashtadikpalas, Swapnasundari and her disciple Anupama marked the centre with creator Brahma, around whom are the deities representing the eight directions. After a swara pallavi in raga Manirangu with 3,5,7 rhythmic combinations, Swapnasundari presented from Ata Bhagavatam a kalapam, visualising vain Satyabhama, in myriad ways parading each part of her physical allure, making her the most coveted of Krishna’s many wives. With Swapna also singing, here was abhinaya expertise — throwing concert timings haywire. Nirmalya Dey’s sonorous Dhrupad, after a meditative Multani, went on to a bandish in Chau tala, “Tuhi vidhata lokpat Namo”, a ‘viraha’ composition in Desh “Savara ranga daalaratiyo” and finale in Sohini “Adi Shivashakti” with Sukhat Munde providing pakhawaj accompaniment.

Lok geet with paramparic stylisation had its best representation in the vibrant Manganiyars of Rajasthan, whose favourite songs “Kesariya Balam” in Maand, and lyrics in Kalyan, Shyam Kalyan, Desh, Bhairavi (the famous Hichki song) and Mehendi in Paraj, with the fascinating khamaich string instrument and masterly khartal (castanets) had the audience in raptures.

One of the highest points of the festival was the Odissi vadya pallavi which Parwati Dutta has painstakingly put together, working closely with pakhawaj maestro Banamali Maharana of Odisha. The fractional tala combinations, with off-sama takeoff points, with constantly changing rhythmic cadence kept the item lively. The only point of improvement, given the excellent Mahagami group coordination, is the need for more articulated torso movement accentuating tribhangi deflections. Here was “Sangeet Ratnakara” inspiration in full bloom!

Kathak of Bhatkhande Vidyapeeth was disappointing. Dr. Ruchi Khare Verma had excellent tala sense and neat nritta — though abhinaya was nondescript. The two younger dancers had neither ang nor tala perfection.

Kathakali play “Keechaka Vadham”, with Sadanam Balakrishna as powerful Keechaka, Sadanam Bhasi as the strong Bhima and Sadanam Vijayan as Sairandhri, with wonderful singing, powerpoint projections giving the translated English sahitya, was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.

Full marks to Mahagami and Parwati for a great effort!