Fete Maestros in Indian classical dance and music enlivened the five-day Dharani Kalotsav in Kochi. Harish Bal

D harani Kalotsav, which greets culture aficionados of Kochi in the first five days of November every year, didn't fail to deliver the goods this year too. The fete lined up some of the best talents from the world of Indian classical music and dance.

Ananda Shankar Jayant, on the first day, charmed the audience with her group choreography ‘Navarasa,' performed in traditional Bharatanatyam style. The expression of the nine emotions began with the dynamic ‘roudra' (anger) bhava. The dancers' use of coloured clothes to represent the various moods was an interesting innovation. The folk-like movements to represent ‘hasyam' or comic element stood out.

The much publicised item of the evening, ‘Simhanandini,' was performed by Ananda. The tala by the same name, comprising 124 aksharas and six talas, was performed as an invocation to Goddess Durga.


The highlight of the piece was the dancer using her feet to sketch a lion (considered the vehicle of Goddess Durga) on a white piece of cloth spread on the ground. As she danced, her feet, painted in vermilion, sketched the outline of a lion.

Sanjay Subrahmanian's Carnatic music concert on the second day displayed his technical virtuosity.

After renditions of ‘Sobillu saptaswara' in Jaganmohini and ‘Brova samayamithe ramaiyya' in Gowri Manohari raga, Sanjay undertook an alaapana of Sahana raga with brigas and modulations. Avaneeswaram Vinu's bowing was a bit hasty with almost no spacing between the phrases.

The vocalist presented a fervid ‘Chitham irangadenayya' in Misra chappu tala, a composition of Papanasam Sivan. His ragam tanam pallavi in Hamir Kalyani saw vibrant swaras and keen mathematical permutations to which Palakkad Mahesh Kumar, on the mridangam, responded well.

Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya opened his Kathak performance on the third day with ‘Om Namah Shivaya' on Lord Shiva. He gave a rhythmic presentation, giving a peak into the layakari aspects of Kathak.

Expressive narrations

The main event of the evening was ‘Ghunghroo,' which traced the evolution of the anklet, or the dance itself in retrospect. Expressive narration in Hindi and adequate props heightened the dramatic quality of the piece, which traced how dance had travelled from temples to kothas. Poignant vocals of Begum Akhtar showed the art form performed in kothas.

On the fourth day, it was Pandit Ramkumar Mishra's ‘layakari' on the tabla that enthused the audiences. He fused old compositions like ‘gath' into the teental frame and gave a performance of intricate rhythm work.

Multiple tonalities brought out the effects of the ‘Shankh' (conch shell). Unique fingering patterns unfurled myriad bols and relas for which Sandeep Mishra supported him competently on the sarangi.

The torch bearer of a glorious tradition of Manipuri dance, Bimbavati Devi, daughter of legendary Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi, performed on the final day of the festival. The bright ebullient costumes of the dancers were riveting but what touched the hearts of the audience was the grace of the dance.

With Tanushree Das as Radha and Bimbavati as Krishna, the group danced ‘Vasant Raas,' which depicted the the play of colours in the bowers of Vrindavan.

In ‘Nani chori,' Bimbavati portrayed the pranks of Krishna and his attempts at stealing a pot of butter. ‘Dasavathara' was a more dynamic item where all the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu were briefly portrayed in vibrant movements by the whole group.

The festival also featured Anwesha Mahanta (Satriya dance), Prateeksha Kashi (Kuchipudi) and Arupa Lahiri (Bharatanatyam) in the young talent slot.

The festival had sopana sangeetham presentation on all the days by Ambalapuzha Vijayakumar, Eloor Biju and Kuzhur Girish. The festival was organised by Dharani Society at Kerala Fine Arts Auditorium.