Aakriti Foundation presents “Tasmai-2013”, an eclectic mix of performances

Sushmita Ghosh, noted Kathak dancer and disciple of Guru Munna Shukla of the Lucknow gharana, has for the past several years been on a voyage which takes her both inwards into a discovery of what is important to her in her own presentation of the art, and outwards, reaching out to the wider world in terms of teaching as well as widening her grasp of related arts. Sushmita, who runs the Aakriti Foundation, holds an annual festival, “Tasmai”, and this year the two-day festival begins on October 22.

“ ‘Tasmai is our grand annual celebration of Indian classical music and dance every year, in memory of the great gurus and masters,” says Sushmita, who has dedicated “Tasmai” 2013 to late Kathak doyenne Rohini Bhate.

On the name of the festival, Sushmita says, “Tasmai literally means ‘(dedicated) to them’ in Sanskrit. It has a sense of giving with no expectation of return, or return/acknowledge what has already been given. Tasmai, for us, is an expression of acknowledgment of and gratitude to the legacy left behind by the gurus and masters of classical art forms.”

Saying Rohini Bhate was one who lived the life of a saadhaka, she notes that the Pune-based guru was “a performer, scholar, guru, choreographer, music composer, as well as a thinker, writer, philosopher.” The underlying unity of arts represented by such a holistic artist is the concept behind “Tasmai” too. “The concept of sangeet as a composite entity, which holds dance, vocal as well as instrumental music is a guiding factor in planning. We wish to draw audiences from all performing arts and hope to make Tasmai an annual platform for convergence and exchange.”

Speaking of the programming, Sushmita says, “Rohiniji’s thoughts and her multi-faceted talents come across beautifully in her choreographic ventures in the opening Kathak presentation by her disciples from Nritya Bharati, Pune, on 22 October. Pandit Birju Maharaj (whose performance concludes the evening) is a living example of this unity of arts — his dance, his music, his poetry, his painting and his life flowing seamlessly into one another.”

The next day, at the India Habitat Centre’s Amaltas, sees performances by Pandit Sarathi Chatterjee followed by the Kedia Brothers (sitar and sarod jugalbandi).

“A legacy is worth its while till it continues to bring newer audiences in its fold and create a better world to live in. In these times of dramatic changes, influxes and turmoil, we believe, it is ever more important for the younger generation to connect with the arts, to find a passion for life and an inner joy to share,” says Sushmita.

“A bulk of our student community is from Gurgaon where we hold the concluding session of ‘Tasmai 2013 at Epicentre on October 25,” she explains.

At Epicentre, besides a Kathak performance by disciples of Jayashree Acharya and Sushmita Ghosh, the endeavour is to “involve the students in various aspects of organisation – they learn about great gurus and experience the parampara, while welcoming the guests and artists, decorating the stage and through the intense process of preparing a performance piece.”

The finale of the festival features a Kathak recital by Deepak and Mamta Maharaj — son and daughter of Birju Maharaj. Sushmita concludes, “The young and energetic duo brings a fresh input of cultural awareness into the corporate world of Gurgaon.”

Tasmai” 2013

October 22, 23, 7 PM at India Habitat Centre

October 25, 7.30 PM at Epicentre, Gurgaon