Dance

Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees give a peek into their art form

GRACEFUL MOVEMENT: Geeta Chandran at the event

GRACEFUL MOVEMENT: Geeta Chandran at the event   | Photo Credit: 26dfrGeeta1

The Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees in the field of classical dance displayed their years of devotion on stage

It was a galaxy of Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees in the field of classical dance that manifested on the performing platform of ‘Meghdoot’ to give us a peek into their art form that has been etched with years of experience. As is natural, the audience inclusive of who’s who in the field, were floating given the long duration recitals that lasted for more than four hours at a stretch.

In the arena of Kuchipudi, A.B. Bala Kondala Rao (Visakhapatnam-Andhra) accompanied by her entire family – one son Aditya dancing along with her while the elder son wielded the percussion (mridangam) and daughter-in-law Amuktamalyada was on mnemonics, regaled the viewers with brisk exposition of ‘Aadenamma Harudu... (So danced the lord Hara/Shiva) by Aditya who testified to his prowess within that short time. Yes, his postures, footwork, pace, mime and movements were brisk and brilliant. Bala gave a soliloquy of Rukmini’s famed epistle-entreaty to Krsna, one of her guru’s (Vempati Chinna Satyam) popular choreographies. Mostly gestural with minimalistic footwork, she was able to give a glimpse into the varied repertoire of this art form. It was feel-good factor that she moulded her entire family in the cause of dance, which is no mean achievement. “We are all into it as a team. My ensemble for any performance is my own family,” she said with pride. Few can achieve such camaraderie within one’s own personal orbit!

Mastery in masculine dance

The Chhau dancers led by Pandit Gopal Prasad Dubey performed a Shiv Tandav set to Raavan’s composition and the story of Chandrabhaga. The masked dancers of Seraikella (Jharkhand) style were full of grace and grip as they undertook the masculine dance with an astonishing agility. The story of Chandrabhaga and the Sun god’s (Surya) infatuation with her which throws a shadow on her life was brought out eloquently. That one can express so much through gestures and movement with a fixed mask to the face that literally denies expression for a dancer to emote, has to be seen to be believed in this genre.

Ratikant Mohapatra, by now a name as an ace choreographer did a solo ‘Shabari’ where he enacted the Shabari – Sri Ram episode culled out of Ramcharitra Manas. Minute detailing marked his abhinaya, now as lord Ram and now as the untouchable Shabari. His tottering gait as the old devotee, her humility, devotion devoid of ritualistic trappings, and his majestic posture as the compassionate Ram, were shown convincingly by Ratikant through simple yet sublime mime. His pupils as a group performed the Ardhnareeswar dance to Adi Shankara’s verses by the same name which was technically brilliant choreography whose hallmark was its visual impact. The group just merged into a single entity as it danced its way through the song picturing the Shiv-Shakti fusion described in various terms. These two well-chosen pieces set out Ratikant as an ace choreographer and guru of the Kelucharan Mohapatra school of Odissi dance.

Geeta Chandran stunned the viewers with her Shiv Panchakshari and a padam at ‘Moguddochhi...’ a piece that mirrors Shringara as a mood and in this particular song the heroine or nayika is a ‘parakeeya’ (a married woman in love with another). The Panchakshari sung to melodic tones by Sudha Raghuraman, saw its earthly manifestation in Geeta’s feet and gestures not to speak of her imposing postures depicting the lord of dance. Speaking of the SNA award, Geeta says, “It was an emotional moment for me as I visualised my guru Swarna Saraswati receiving this prestigious award here exactly 50 years ago and in those times, she was the third lady in the country to get it in the field of dance. Here I am, her disciple getting the award five decades later, what a joy! Of course, a huge social responsibility comes along which I will have to shoulder and execute with commitment.” So true, not just for Geeta Chandran but all those who have dedicated their life to classical dance and worked towards its propagation.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:51:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/a-glorious-galaxy-in-motion/article22520127.ece

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