Dance The Kathak–Bharatanatyam jugalbandi provided entertainment and enjoyment at SICA's annual festival. RANEE KUMAR
In the present day context ‘jugalbandi' or ‘fusion' or ‘Sufi' is loosely used to convey an amalgam with a new label. The so-called Kathak and Bharatanatyam jugalbandi was but a mixed bag of not just one style of dance, but a cleverly crafted concocted version of both that defies classicism and at the same time cannot be dubbed as totally contemporary. Nirupama and Rajendra's ‘jugalbandi' was a glimpse of Kathak together, a varied version of Bharatanatyam with folk and filmy moves, a foreign-influenced Kathak style of dance which the couple called ‘tha dha' and proclaimed its popularity at other platforms!
The stage lighting and dazzling costume (more by the couple than the group) offset the grammar of the two classical genre in the first place. A stylised form of Kathak by the duo impressed the audience, especially the freezing postures, the challenging stances and of course the chakkars and the bhol in the Tarana. Both Rajendra and Nirupama looked good from the physical aspect and dance with vigour and vibrancy.
The Spanish-adopted costume and Kathak were also pleasing to the eye from an aesthetic point of view. The dance did not go beyond this.
It provided entertainment and enjoyment of course, which is what modern thinking is all about as regards classical performance. The attempt to create this ‘new feel' as Nirupama announced for the ‘tha dha' where the sound of these two words would recur as they slid and swept across the stage in long strides in twosome was titillating, to say the least.
The group choreography in Bharatanatyam, be it the Alaipayude kanna, yen manam or the Raasleela was an admixture of the south Indian dance footwork to Kathak pace with gyrating moves like the frescos culled out of a good old Hindi movie.
Attired in colourful lehengas and ghunghats, the dancers pranced around with a hastamudra here and another there with varied expressions, while this piece was supposed to be one on abhinaya!
Or perhaps the audience were to comprehend the feelings of each gopi to the song, which need not necessarily be the same emotion! So much could have been done in terms of footwork and hasthabhinaya to the lines, kadhiththa manathil oruththi padaththai which vibrate with a beautiful swing so conducive to jatis, but all that we got was interlocking and intertwining of the group of dancers in curvaceous moves, which was least warranted.
The Raasaleela had a Krishna character who looked an antithesis to the mythical description of the Lord. It is commonsense that on stage, accentuated eyes (or make-up)only serves to carry the emotion of the actor/dancer to the farthest distance which obviously means the visibility factor. The girl dancers too could have done with a little more embellishments in the hair as their colourful costume contrasted with their rather dry looks. The dance looked more of a tableau. The pre-recorded music by Praveen Rao and MS Sheela's voice for the Oothukaadu composition was perfect. The dance was part of Sica's annual festival at Ravindra Bharathi.