Four to the fore


It was a collage of classical dance forms from across the country. From Mohiniattam to Kathak, the effect was noteworthy despite the constraints of stage space and time limit. Titled “Pragya”, Nritya Vahini Academy of Performing Arts’s fest in New Delhi saw individual artistes lending their share of virtuosity to enhance their presentations.

Saji Menon contributed two pieces in Mohiniattam - one “Kubja” where she had ample scope to showcase her abhinaya which she did with aplomb within the limitations of her medium and another called “Tatwa” which was simply superb in its unique conception where she was able to blend pure dance (nritta) to expressive emotion (abhinaya) of an abstract, ritualistic philosophy of Tantra. She began by unveiling the esoteric Sri Chakra from its outer layers to which she danced in squarish moves to mnemonics and then circular as she is entering the inner sanctums, a triangle and finally the bindu or centre point where resides the Shakti (energy incarnate) together with Shiva (bliss personified). The refrain of “thom gath, thom gath..” gathered momentum as she passed through the layers and moves into vilambit as she reached the centre spot (sahasrara chakra). Since this spot is reflected in the crown of one’s head, she depicted the lotuses as blooming from top to downwards which was an appreciable piece of artistry. The personification of this energy centre into three goddesses of knowledge, prosperity and valour was done to solfa syllabic utterances which was union of melody and aesthetics.

Lipsa Satpathy emerged as the star performer of the evening with an excellent combination of tandava and lasya in her body language. She used both as and when the demand rose and that made her dance dazzle. And she seemed to have the inherent gift of speaking with her eyes which was so evident even in an abstract dance like pure nritta, for instance, the Pallabi in raag Rageswari, her eyes communicated with her hastha mudras and gesticulations and vice-versa breathing life into the footwork-oriented piece.

The more melodic Oriya song on Radha was sheer poetry come alive in dance. The varied stances to depict Krishna, the coy, bashful looks of the nayika, her lethargic awakening at dawn, the graceful care with which the heroine does her tresses into plait were like a rainbow of expressions that deserve a mention. The dancer’s vigour could be felt by the viewer whether she did a languid poetry or brisk nritta and that goes without saying that Lipsa will make it big in future.

Reddi Lakshmi’s Kuchipudi opened with Oothukadu’s “Pranavakaram siddhi vinayakam...”’ followed by a typical tarangam on Durga where the artiste balanced herself on the brass plate and executed the mnemonics with arithmetic alacrity. A racy dancer, Lakshmi should take care not to miss out on the rhythm (laya and tala) even for a fraction of a second while concluding the avarthan, which is a common folly with speedy footwork execution. Though the artiste did not imbibe the exaggerated facial abhinaya of native Kuchipudi (since it was danced by men who had to adopt exaggeration while donning female or super human roles), she would do even better with emotive expressions that come when one internalises the content of the song.

Sattriya by petite Anwesha Mahanta in male attire –dhoti, pagari et al was more or less like the Bhagavatha mela of Kuchipudi or Melatoor when done in solo. She went through the Bhagavat stories like Gajendra moksh, Kaliya mardhan with vivid imagery that was impressive.

A vivacious dancer, Anwesha’s eye expressions conveyed the Puranic lore much more sonorously than the song!

Vasudevan Iyengar chose to present antique pieces like Brahma Sandhi and Thodai Mangalam – two crisp pieces that literally covered a range of Bharatanatyam aspects in the nritta, natya sections. It was like reading a chapter on the original temple dance structure where the divine flag staff pillar in front of the sanctum is venerated with invocations to directions(disha), to the creator, Brahm dev and other unseen elemental deities, etc. Vasudevan’s nritta mirrors his mentor-guru Vyjayanthimala’s rigorous training in ‘ang shudh’ where the eye rivets the hand gestures and the mind gets yoked to the body bringing in the puritanical dance. The Todai mangalam was a brilliant piece where an entire story is shown in a nutshell with absorbing abhinaya that keeps changing with the refrain.The Nrsimh avatar was enacted with the veera, ugra, bheebatsa and karuna rasas all in one stroke which spoke volumes of the artiste’s calibre.

Vasudevan Iyengar

Vasudevan Iyengar  

The Kathak recital wrapped up the fest with Swati Sinha’s solo, first a dramatic piece on Guru Gobind Singh’s eulogy of mother goddess Durga and then to the technical aspect of this genre and finally a dashavtar piece. In all three, she was at her expressive best within the confines of her medium. Her depiction of the martial forms of the goddess was indeed aesthetic. Kudos to Nritya Vahini Academy of Performing Arts for presenting so many dance forms in a patterned manner if one were to observe. Lok Kala Manch played host to the young talent festival.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:49:13 AM |

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