Festival The audience was in for a visual treat, feasting on Badhai, Chhau, Sambalpuri and Bhangra dance performances. Velcheti Subrahmanyam

Athree-day Coastal Festival of Folk Arts treated Vizagites to a rich fare of kaleidoscopic hues on the silver sands of sprawling RK beach, Visakhapatnam. With a plethora of folk art forms of different regions coming alive, the event felt like one was crisscrossing the country through folk dances.

The silky sands of the beach glowing in the reflection of sodium lamps at rosy sundown set a perfect ambience for the exuberance of rich and varied folk arts that unfolded in aesthetic splendour.

The inaugural piece, a bubbly Badhai dance of Bundelkhand, was truly breathtaking. It was an expression of joy unalloyed at a happy occasion for one number and for another it was a propitiation to the presiding deity Sitladevi of their village, to ward off a natural calamity. The dance involving sinuous, wave-like movements to virile rhythms of a frenzied beat unfolded the grandeur of the art form in all its charms.

Next came the Maathuri dance that showcased the ethnic hues of Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh. It was a celebration of Janmashtami.

To melodic beat of nagaras, the team in colourful costumes merrily danced with appealing footwork, singing paeans to the cosmic glory of Lord Krishna. Holding pieces of cloth stretched over heads in a rhythmic and vibrant movement of hands, the team wove beautiful floor designs in consonance with the lyrical spirit of the song.

Captivating Purulia Chhau of West Bengal impressed the audience with its superlative aesthetics.

The masked version of this dance that the troupe chose to present unveiled its gorgeous forms of masks besides intricate footwork of incredible precision involving leaps, bounds, bounces, spins and pirouettes, bending, sitting and standing stances all to the rousing beat of percussions.. The team danced to the mythological Mahishasura Mardhanam .

While the opening scene with Lord Siva, Ganesh and Shanmukha set the tone, the entry of Goddess Durga and Mahishasura and the ensuing ferocious battle that saw the end of the demon king was presented in breathtaking tempo with such an effortless ease that it stupefied dance lovers.

Sambalpuri dance of Orissa stood

out for its splendid appeal. Weaving seemingly simple but intricate floor designs with gracious gait in a rhythmic pattern, the ease with which the dancers shuffled the footwork in tune with lyrical nuances of the song was commendable.

The wedding song was a lovely chat between the relatives of both bride and bridegroom with each party praising the virtues of their respective side.

Virile Punjabi Bhangra in all its vibrancy with a patriotic fervour evoked warm response capped the event.

The South Central Zone Cultural Council Nagpur in association with Visakhapatnam district administration organised the fest as a part of its national cultural exchange programme.