‘Dreams Unlimited’, held in Thiruvananthapuram, was a unique experience for artistes and rasikas alike. A platform for artistes above the age of 30 to showcase their new productions, the festival was curated by Methil Devika with art critic P Gopakumar and danseuse Rajashree Warrier as other members of the assessment committee. They expressed their views in a way that would encourage the performers to fine tune their choreography and performance.
What made the festival a success was the performers, all of whom impressed with their recitals.
The festival began with Salini Harikrishnan’s Nandini Prasadam Koodiyattam, which narrated the story of King Dilip and the origin of the great Raghu dynasty. It was based on the second canto (sarga) of Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsam and was a praiseworthy effort. While the storyline was new to the repertoire, the approach and even the imagery remained more or less the same. Since Koodiyattam is an art of detailing, Salini had to work hard to contain it within the stipulated 45 minutes. She had to rush through certain portions.
Rather than going for a hero-oriented piece, Samrat Dutta chose to present 10 different facets of Adi Parasakthi in ‘Dasamahavidya’, his Bharatanatyam production. Even though he certainly could have brought in more finesse to his performance, what made it attractive was the way he distinguished various aspects of the goddess. While certain characters were gentle, there were some with vigour. Samrat succeeded in finding the right balance while portraying the theme.
Manju V Nair was more keen on making her Bharatanatyam production, ‘Pathinoradal’, a spectacle. The premise was set for an elaborate show — 11 different styles of dance that Madhavi presented for her debut recital, as narrated in Silappathikaram . She used multiple props to do that and it was indeed a visual treat. Since she had to take breaks in between for the changeovers, there was some disconnect. Presenting it as a duet or without any props might have bettered the experience for the viewers.
‘Geeto Nrityanjali’, Rabindra Nritya by Souraja Tagore, was a celebration of short poems by Rabindranath Tagore, with themes ranging from joy, nature and romance to introspection. The introductions explaining the content, cultural context and beauty of each poem were apt and it added to the show.
‘Aashan Aatkonda Seedan’, a Bharatanatyam duet by Dhanoop PK and Shiju Menon, presented the heart-warming story of a guru and disciple. The production brought to light incidents leading to Sukumara Kavi singing ‘Sree Krishna Vilasa Kavyam’ even as as he immolated himself. Dhanoop was impressive in the role of Sukumara and touched the soul of the character. Short dance segments served as embellishments. However, they missed out on bringing a new perspective that would’ve enhanced its relevance in the present-day scenario. The story of Sukumara has a lesson for gurus too, that being inconsiderate wouldn’t necessarily help in bringing the best out of their students.
The concluding show of the three-day festival was ‘Viswa Narthanam’ presented by a team – Anusri S Nair, Devi S, Meera Nair, and Sobha Madhu led by Sunitha Sivadas, who conceptualised the production. The idea of connecting the Pancha Bhuta with different faces of Lord Shiva identified as Pancha Linga, against the backdrop of the five elemental compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar was indeed a bold attempt. Presenting all these within a limited time-frame also meant that the dancers missed out on the finer details. However, the use of five percussion instruments – mizhavu, chenda, maddalam, thimila, and edakka, brought in an excitement that favoured the dancers.
The fete was organised by Soorya India. It saw talented musicians giving their best in support of the dancers. The team of technicians of Soorya also pitched in, meeting the specific needs of the dancers, thus giving each show a character of its own.