`Gopala Gandharva' was a fitting tribute to guru and choreographer Gopal Shetty.
Guruvandana Shivanjali's `Temple of Fine Arts' presented an evening of enchanting Odissi dance performance, `Gopala Gandharva,' at Agastya Centre of Excellence, Coimbatore. It was a homage to Gopal Shetty, dedicated dance director and choreographer. Their guru Sri Shantanand Saraswathi described him as `Gandharva,' because of his excessive love for dance and the whole-hearted way in which he shared it with his students. This being the silver jubilee year of the `Temple of Fine Arts,' Shivanjali celebrated it by paying tribute to one of the pillars of this institution.`Gopala Gandharva' showcased the important aspects of Odissi. The programme began with `Mangalacharan,' in which the dancers, trained by Chinmayee Dwaraknath, an accomplished Odissi dancer, invoked both Vishnu and Siva by depicting a few leelas of Hari and Hara. In `Sthai,' they presented some of the beautiful dance postures found in the temples of Orissa. `Ashta Shambhu,' depicted the eight forms of Siva. This had excellent scope for abhinaya and the popular episodes such as the burning of Cupid, destruction of Daksha's sacrifice, demolition of the three cities (Tripura), the drinking of poison during the churning of the ocean of milk etc., were narrated impressively. In `Yugma dwandh' the dancers expressed their joy of moving in harmony. `Kalika Kavach' was awesome. Kali may appear to be terrible, but she is mercy incarnate. This was portrayed through the sloka `Yaa Devi Sarva Bhootheshu.' The concluding piece was `Moksha' (Liberation) that conveyed that only the guru can destroy our ego and help us in the realisation of God.
The costumes, make-up and choreography were of a high order. The intense facial expressions and the lithe movements of the dancers were highly commendable. (The depiction of Dakshayini falling into the fire and writhing in pain, and the wild boar in the throes of death after being hit by the arrows of Siva and Arjuna, were astoundingly realistic.) The stage, enveloped in a light mist, had the right ambience. Nageshwaran, violinist and Krishnamurthy, artist, were honoured for their long association with the TFA and contribution in giving the programmes a touch of class.The rangoli of Sri Krishna, Subhadra and Balarama (deities of Puri Jagannath) was beautiful and appropriate.