NISHA M

A mix of traditional and contemporary dances was performed in connection with the `Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival 07.'

`Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival 07' saw a mix of traditional and contemporary dances being performed by some of the best dancers in the country at Nishagandhi open-air auditorium. Eminent Kuchipudi exponent Vyjayanthi Kashi, who is known for her innovative choreography, came with her troupe to mesmerise connoisseurs in the city. Taking inspiration from the opening section of Natya Sastra, they began with a traditional `purvaranga vedhi,' usually performed by Kuchipudi dancers before the commencement of Kuchipudi Yakshaganas. `Shrushti' depicting the emergence of the universe followed this. The evolution of life was portrayed. `Stabda' was the piece de resistance of the recital, showcasing the dramatic element in Kuchipudi. It revolved around Gandhari who is married to a blind king. The dancers who mimed verses from the text gave the choreography a dramatic effect. The recital culminated with a thillana, a composition by Swati Tirunal in Bhoopalam set to Adi tala.The latter half of the evening saw a group production by accomplished Manipuri danseuse Priti Patel and her troupe, Anjika. A disciple of Guru Bipin Singh, Priti is trained in Manipuri dance, music, martial arts as well as stage lighting.

Tribute to the spiritual fire

Set against the backdrop of the traditional Manipuri martial art form Thang-Ta, the thematic choreography `Agni' was a tribute to the spiritual fire. The presentation navigated with an invocation to the Goddess Usha followed by the ritualistic `Agni Manthan' where the fire is lit. Through Vedic chants and ancient Manipuri rituals, Agni is evoked and shown in relation to earth, fire, water and sky. Finally Agni is depicted as a purifier and remover of all evil. The Vedic and Manipuri traditions came to the fore through Priti's arresting skill in choreography. Srikumar Banerjee composed the music.The much-revered Bharathanatyam dancer, choreographer, composer and teacher, C.V. Chandrasekhar and his disciples danced their way into the audiences' heart. `Panchadevastuti,' an invocatory piece in raga Malika and usually a solo item, was staged as group choreography. Based on the concept of the Vardhamana Geeta of Purvaranga of Natya Sastra, the dancers paid obeisance to Ganapati, Shiva, Vishnu, Surya and Devi.A varnam in Natakurinji set to Adi tala followed in which Chandrasekhar proved his prowess in the chosen art form. The longing of a devotee for Lord Ranganatha, questioning his indifference and delay to show his compassion towards her was well conveyed by Chandrasekhar's fluid expressions. The nritta and natya segments were perfect for its accuracy. `Kreeda' (games), a stylised choreography provided the grande finale of the repertoire. Using the techniques of Bharathanatyam, games were portrayed. Presentation of games like skipping, juggling balls, knuckle stones, kite flying, et al were well received by the audience as they were treated to a nostalgic experience. The dancers left the audience spellbound with their dexterity in movements and abhinaya.Chandrasekhar himself provided nattuvangam for the item. The team was accompanied by Vanathy Reghuraman on the vocal and Jaya Chandrasekhar on the nattuvangam. Veteran Adayar Balu was on the mridangam and Devarajan and Vijayaraghavan were on the flute and the violin respectively.