Feet on Earth’s ‘Dharani’, presents a weekend of cultural immersion in Hyderabad

The second edition of the Feet on Earth festival will be held on 25 and 26, atBansilalpet area, in Hyderabad

November 22, 2023 02:20 pm | Updated 02:22 pm IST

Gopika Varma will be performing Mohiniyattam at the 2023 edition of Feet on Earth festival, to be held in Hyderabad.

Gopika Varma will be performing Mohiniyattam at the 2023 edition of Feet on Earth festival, to be held in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: The Hindu Archives

How can a ‘part’ be representative of the ‘whole’? Dharani is exactly this poetic nichhod (distillation) — those concentrated spaces and moments in the long narrative of life that serve as the essence of the whole.

The second edition of the Feet on Earth festival will be held from ..at Hyderabad. The motif this year is ‘Dharani’. It features Gayan Bayan, Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, Andhranatyam, and Lavani.

Pujitha Krishna.

Pujitha Krishna. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Feet on Earth’s inaugural festival last year took place at the Salarjung Museum on the banks of river Musi. This year, the festival centers around the Bansilalpet area, and will also feature a pre-event heritage walk that culminates at the stepwell, where a two-day exhibition of stepwell art by Charanjeet Singh will be on display. Surat-based Charanjeet’s enchantment with history and stepwells began much before his connection with art — in his childhood home in Jamshedpur. In the amphitheatre adjacent to the stepwell, there will be varied performances.

First, dance. This dharani of eternal longing to become one with another or its divine origin is represented through the dual aspects of lasya (feminine grace) and tandava (masculine rhythm). The Vaishnava traditions are represented by Pujita’s Kuchipudi performance and Gopika Varma’s Mohiniyattam. Satwika Penna will present Andhranatyam, one of the most recent temple dance traditions of the Telugu region to be discovered and revived.

Lavani, a dance performance, will be featured as part of 2023’s edition of  ‘Feet on Earth’ festival in Hyderabad.

Lavani, a dance performance, will be featured as part of 2023’s edition of ‘Feet on Earth’ festival in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Then, the tale. The dharani of personal stories, replete with hero, heroine, strife and triumph finds expression in ‘Pushkarini’, which is both the name of the protagonist as well as a synonym for the stepwell. Specially commissioned for the festival, Pushkarini will be performed by Kriti Stories, Pallavi Verma’s Hyderabad-based theatre production company, in and around the stepwell highlighting its aspect as ‘feminine space’.

Finally, theatre. The dharani of the grand drama of life and humanity as a collective is presented in the form of two unique additions to the festival — Gayan Bayan by members of the Sri Sri Jorabari Sattra of Shivsagar, Assam, and ‘Lavanyavati’, a documentary theatre production introducing the history of lavani and presented by Mumbai-based Kali Billi Productions (KBP).

In keeping with the recent trend of culture festivals giving equal space and voice to less mainstream art forms, Feet on Earth spotlights Gayan Bayan, a predominantly vocal and percussion art form accompanied by stylised movement, and lavani, the much-misunderstood dance form from Maharashtra.

Feet On Earth spotlights ‘Gayan Bayan’ at this year’s festival.

Feet On Earth spotlights ‘Gayan Bayan’ at this year’s festival. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Gayan Bayan was founded by Srimanta Sankardev and originated in the Vaishnava monasteries of Assam. All male performers enact the human pursuit of dharma. In contrast, Lavani is a dharani of spectacle, an audacious dance form full of attitude that boldly flouts veil and reserve in a celebration of mischievous oomph.

With the Feet on Earth Festival this year, Hyderabad-based dancer, writer and educator Pujita Krishna attempts to create a dharani of ‘what was and what can be’ by juxtaposing the old and known with the new and rediscovered.

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