Dance

In the name of Lord Ganesha

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri   | Photo Credit: HAREE FOTOGRAFIE

‘Ganesham’, a dance-musical presentation, opened the 111-day-long annual Soorya Festival in Thiruvananthapuram.

A monumental stage setting of a temple covering the whole space of the stage, coupled with an array of lights from myriad directions, was on display as the audience took their seats to watch the premiere of ‘Ganesham’, a mega dance and music show conceptualised by Soorya Krishnamoorthy and presented by Soorya India. The recital, celebrating the virtues of Lord Ganesha, marked the beginning of the 111-day-long, 40th edition of the annual Soorya Festival.

The show began with a temple scene where Lord Ganesha was being worshipped by a priest and other believers. Classical dancers Lakshmi Gopalaswamy (Bharatanatyam), Prateeksha Kashi (Kuchipudi) and Dakshina Vaidyanathan (Bharatanatyam) came in succession, stepping in tune to three Muthuswami Dikshitar compositions - ‘Sri Mahaganapathi Ravatu Mam...’, ‘Siddhivinayakam Anisham...’ and ‘Vathapi Ganapthim...’ Later they were joined by Abhaya Lakshmi performing Odissi and Anjana Jha and Divya Ghogale doing Kathak.

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri   | Photo Credit: HAREE FOTOGRAFIE

The six gave the show a befitting start and they all looked fluent on stage; be it appearing from their designated entry points on their cue, taking their positions or performing in sync. Other than the Dikshitar kritis, verses from different Hindu texts were also used and the performance culminated with the song ‘Ekadantaya Vakratundaya...’, hinting at a procession and ending with a group formation.

It was time for three singers - Hazrath Zia Ul Haq, Saritha Ram and Siju Kumar - to make their entry. The ‘Thuyilunaru...’ song at the beginning sounded feeble at times. However, once Hazrath Zia Ul Haq took the lead and sang some peppy bhajans, the trio made up for the quavery start. Dancers of Samudranatanam and Natyakalakshetra also came in at times during these song sessions. The production also used recorded renderings of Pt. Ramesh Narayan, Kavalam Sreekumar and Madhusree.

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri

A scene from 'Ganesham'. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri   | Photo Credit: HAREE FOTOGRAFIE

The music switched over to a Carnatic-Hindustani combination of ‘Sada Shiva Kumaram...’ and ‘Ekadanta Gajavadana...’, again making way for the classical dancers and this time they also had the company of Madhu Gopinath, Vakkom Sajeev and Deepa Sajeev - the lead dancers of Samudranatanam. The physical manoeuvres of these dancers were interesting to begin with but beyond a point it didn’t sustain interest. The same pattern of bhajan and dance were repeated a few times and so they could not sustain the excitement.

A song ‘Kailasagiri Thannil...’, penned by Rajiv Alumkal, narrated the story of Ganesha winning the mango from Narada while competing with his brother Karthikeya. The classical dancers, in turn, presented the story in solo mode on one side and the Samudranatanam members portrayed different scenes in group on the other side. As the viewers’ attention switched between the two, the soloists could hardly make an impression. Adding to it was the poor lighting, which resulted in the dancers performing in near darkness! On the other hand, Samudra dancers continued with their dance exercises to the extent of Narada and Karthikeya having to do leaps to make their entry and exit, which was kind of flippant to say the least.

The show was nearing its end and all of a sudden it switched over to a cinematic kind of dance, best resembling a festive song from a Bollywood flick. It was in complete contrast to what was presented till then.

In the end the priest from the initial scene reappeared along with some assistants carrying a palanquin, may be to hint at ‘pradosham’, the end of the day. As they left, all dancers came together for the final dance in front of the huge Ganesha idol that was placed in the middle of the stage as the lights went off. By the time the singers finished with their repeated rendering of ‘Ganapathi Bappa Morya’ marking the end, the clock almost ticked over the 90-minute-mark and the compère called the dancers for the curtain call.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 9:09:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/In-the-name-of-Lord-Ganesha/article14841988.ece

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