Arushi Mudgal’s Odissi performance: An effortless and spontaneous presentation

Supremely talented Arushi Mudgal

Supremely talented Arushi Mudgal   | Photo Credit: DEEPAK

Arushi Mudgal’s performance of Odissi was reflective not just of her hardwork but a deeper understanding she has of her own body and its relationship with the form

The advantage of performing in a proscenium is that the dark stage, like an empty canvas, can be brought to life in any shape and colour. Only few dancers utilize this freedom in the right measure. Usually cyclonic lighting, loud music and over the top make up embellish the proscenium stage during a classical dance performance. However, on last Friday, the stage in Seva Sadan looked like a dream as golden light fell on it like stardust and the Odissi dancer, Arushi Mudgal danced to one song after another. Decked in hues of orange and dull silver jewellery, the aharya blended harmoniously with the rest of the stage atmosphere. Even the drama in movement and expressions were judicious, just enough to leave a happy aftertaste for the audience. Gracing the stage with ease and panache, she relished her own performance.

Titled “Sutra” (meaning a thread that weaves through), the performance was meant to highlight the evolution of the tradition of Odissi across three generations of dancers. Most of the pieces that were performed were choreographed either by her aunt and Guru Madhavi Mudgal or Kelucharan Mohapatra, the Odissi Maestro who her Guru learnt from. For most of Madhavi Mudgal’s choreography, the music composition was by Madhup Mudgal, Arushi Mudgal’s father. The performance was a part of the three day dance festival called “Nrutyotsava” organized by Kalapremi Foundation.

The evening was opened with the customary Ganesh Vandana. Tossing the flower petals in the air with a flourish the dancer acknowledged her divine and human audience. As the Vandana progressed to its climax, she played manjira to the accelerated rhythm of the music, moving her hands in a circular fashion while dancing across the length and breadth of the stage. The next piece was “Vasant” describing the beauty of the spring season which some popular imagery of love in the time of flower blossoms. Her virtuosity in Nrtta shone through in the following piece “Bageshree”. In this piece, her dance expressed a comfort with the form of Odissi that was reflective not just of the hardwork but a deeper understanding she has of her own body and its relationship with the form. As if she is one with music, the audience could feel the music leap, glide, sway and turn as she did so. A lot of her Nrtta emphatically overlaid faster smaller movements of hands, feet, wrist and head on a larger slower movement. One could use the metaphor of the Earth’s rotation and revolution to understand the possibility of two different kind of movements unfolding simultaneously - for example there were many instances where the stepping was at a fast pace as she turned around, drawing a semi-circle in a slower pace.

Her abhinaya was performed to three diverse compositions. Two of them were Oriya songs (Kadi Chand and Prana Sangini) and the movements for them were choreographed by Kelucharan Mohapatra. Though she performed stories that are popular among classical dancers, her retellings, re-invented the experience of the same. It was the smaller details of imagination that made the dancer’s abhinaya a revealing experience. For example, the otherwise overdone imagery of Krishna secretly eating mud is made very real by Arushi’s subtle movement of fingers while putting the mud into the mouth which adds the detail of the texture of the mud to the performance. Another instance from the same piece was the narration of the event of Krishna revealing the universe in his mouth. Without showing the open mouth of Krishna, Arushi depicts the quivering face of Yashoda that leaves a powerful impression.

Irrespective of whether it was an expressive piece or a technical one, what stands out in her performance is the effortless nature of her movement.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 7:50:40 PM |

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