DANCE The three-day Samskrutham Dance Festival was exciting for the many forms that it brought centre stage
‘Samskrutham – A Dance festival to Celebrate Sanskrit’ conceptualised by Usha R.K., comprised a series of dance performances by pairs of artistes, spread over three days. The first two days saw performances by Rajendra Srinivasan and Anju Nair, Sathyanarayana Raju and Shama Krishna, Anil Iyer and Medha Dixit, and Praveen Kumar and Soundarya Srivatsa.
The third day’s programme began with an Odissi recital by Bishwabhushan Mohapatra and Madhulita Mohapatra, dancing to recorded music. ‘Nava Durga’, the opening number, paid obeisance to the different forms of the Mother Goddess, the one who nurtures and sustains the universe and is also the fearsome destroyer of the demons Shumbha and Nishumbha. The item was attractively choreographed and presented with grace and co-ordination. The following ashtapadi ‘Chandana Charchita’, a beautiful exposition of Krishna’s beauty as he sports with the gopis, incorporated nritta sequences backed by rhythmic syllables and swara passages, presenting glimpses of the rasaleela, and exemplifying the delicacy and intricacy of the idiom.
‘Yahi Madhava, Yahi Keshava’, also an ashtapadi, was prefaced with the relevant shloka beginning ‘Atha Kathamapi’. An anguished Radha waits all night for Krishna, only to have him arrive in the morning with obvious signs of having spent his time with another, and exhorts him to leave, rather than offer untruths as excuses. The poignancy and intensity of the lyrics was communicated well, and though Krishna’s emotive role in the duet was rather limited, the dancers complemented each other effectively, especially in the statuesque poses and synchronised footwork.
The chowkas, tribhangis, and sinuous allure of Odissi found a dramatic contrast in the ensuing Kathak presentation with its upright stance, delicate gestures and complex footwork. Tushar Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt began their performance with excerpts from Ravana’s ‘Shiva Thandava Stotram’, a superb choice. The onomaetopic syllables in the verses and the pounding, pulsating rhythm embedded in the metre, suggestive of the awesome power and magnificence of the Lord’s tandava, imbued the item with force and vibrancy.
The succeeding exposition of teentaal served to highlight technical command and rhythmic control, in absolute synchronization with the recorded music. Permutations and combinations within the time frame were executed by the duo with lithe movement, precision and finesse, though the item itself was an apparent deviation from the avowed theme of the Festival.
Among the concluding pieces was an exposition of Tulsidas’s ‘Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhaja Mana’, extolling the divine personage of Lord Rama and his attributes, and portraying episodes from the Ramayana.
Flautist H.S. Venugopal, mridangist G. Gurumurthy, and vocalist D.S. Srivatsa were felicitated during the course of the three days in a commendable effort to acknowledge and honour the contributions of dance musicians.
‘Samskrutham’ on the whole served to illumine the central role of Sanskrit and its seminal influence on art forms of India, cutting across all genres and regions.