Numbers mattered at the five-day dance fest - 'Nritya Sanrachna'.

‘Sapta’ is an effort to recapture some of the cosmic energy as reflected in the movement of planets and the dance The concept of numbers may not be an entirely novel idea, but nevertheless is an interesting theme to hold one’s interest and curiosity. The on-going ‘Nritya Sanrachna’ — Festival of Choreographic works on Sankhya, at Ravindra Bharati is being presented by Sangeet Natak Akademi, Department of Culture, Government of AP and Shankarananda Kalakshetra, Hyderabad.

Thanks to the high-brow artistes, the auditorium was packed to the brim to say the least.

After a brief observation by the Secretary of the Sangeet Natak Academy Jayant Kastuar on this concept, the event unfurled with ‘Dashavataras’, presented in Mohiniattam style by noted Choreographer Bharati Shivaji. Her choreography for this episode began with a warming up item with brisk footwork, followed by the Dashavatara presentation using the Jayadeva Dasavatara Ashtapadi, Paralaya Payonidhi in Ragamalika. She then presented ‘Dasa Pushpa’ representing the number ‘10’ based on a tradition in Kerala of offering a set of ten chosen flowers to offer to the deity on a particular festive day. The accompanying song carried the names of these flowers and the five dancers mimicked offering them.

On nine

‘Navarasa’, staged by Shankarananda Kalakshetra of Ananda Shankar Jayant, draws essence of nine emotions through pure dance. Interestingly, choreographer Ananda thinks beyond the mythical narratives to depict each rasa and experiments with pure body movements and the kinetic energy of Bharatanatyam. Each Rasa was intermitted with a male dancer sporting colourful veils representative of each emotion. For instance, yellow for ‘Veera’ or valour, and the dancers using ‘Utplavanas’, and vigorous dancing to depict the benevolence and dignity of bravery or stretches and ‘garuda mandalas’ for ‘Roudra’, floor movements for ‘Bhayanaka’, a very interesting ‘Bhibatsa’ without using hands, culminating with ‘Shanta’ or peace, the dance choreography that unfolded to depict the different colours and spirit of the Nine Rasas seemed merging into the static emotion of nothingness, connecting the number philosophy — the theme of the present festival.

Manipuri magic

The majority of the audience perhaps had a rare occasion of watching the Manupuri dance. Renowned Guru Singhajit Singh treated them to the traditional Manipuri dance style known for its delicate and graceful movements. One got to see two dancers also lending vocal support to their movements. The effect was quite soothing though the theme again is a well known one — ‘Ashta Nayika’.

The body and the feet of the dancers moved together, as composite movement of the whole body. And yet the total picture they gave was astonishingly beautiful. The musical instruments too looked and sounded different, cymbals dominating the whole show. Guru Singhajit Singh and his wife Charu Sija Mathur combined their efforts to present this episode of ‘Ashtanayikas’.

One on seven

The Kathak performance bearing the number Seven was on the names of the weekdays each related to a planet. Hence it’s called ‘Sapta Aavarta’, presented by choreographer Prerana Shrimali of Kathak Kala Kendra, New Delhi. Indeed this subject is partly related to the planetary system but was restricted to the planets after which the week days were named like Earth, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. Just as the planets move in fixed and measured cycles making many aavartans in cosmos, Kathak too has its own orbit, different time cycles and taals.

‘Sapta’ is an effort to recapture some of the cosmic energy as reflected in the movement of both the planets and the dance through the grammar and rhythm of Kathak.

The performances by Prerana and her team were quite vigorous and were well supported by lighting effects with colour beams of light criss-crossing the stage.

Thus it was a spectacle too to watch. The dance part was filled with breezy pirouettes by both men and women to brisk rhythmic support from the wings on tablas. This theme was a bit abstract and yet was made to follow with intermittent explanation and also the abhinaya they presented for each planet like ‘Arghyam’ to Surya and the moonlit night effect for Chandra and so on to accompanying songs on them. A dynamic production, which had the musical score by Shubha Mudgal.