In idioms, classical and contemporary

Parshwanath Upadhye and Punyah Dance Company’s ‘Sat Gati’  

It is reassuring to find a young performing artiste hosting a well-attended annual festival, spread over three days, featuring established senior, solo and group dancers.

Keerthana Ravi, the brain and effort behind EVAM that was hosted by RasaBodhi Arts Foundation, was at all the venues, coordinating with the volunteers, supervising the technical needs and logistics, besides anchoring the events.

The first day at St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra, featured ‘Gandhi’ by Satyajith Dhananjayan and ‘Amaara’ by Ashley Lobo's Navdhara Indian Dance Theatre.

‘Mahatma Gandhi’ used all four modes of abhinaya (angika, vachika, aaharya, satvika), expressing through body, speech, costumes and props to reach out to the people to create Sahridayas as Satyagrahis who would transform India into a utopian Ramarajya. The presentation urged the participants and viewers to introspect and initiate the process of change resulting in the creation of sahridayas. “These are images, experiences and emotions that we have engaged with, through the process of working on this piece. Our approach is to free the audience from expectations of linear narrative or sentiments of any kind,” says Satyajith. Monali Basu (vocal), Manonmani (sarangi), Ganapthy (mridangam) and Anand Sachidanand (nattuvangam) added to the presentation by Satyajith, Sivadas, Uthiya Barua, Sukhanya and Sadashi.

‘Amaara -A Journey of Love,’ choreographed by Ashley Lobo and performed by Navdhara India Dance Theatre attempted to take viewers into a world, where body and mind fuse their way to nothingness. In what they term ‘Prana Paint’ technique, the dancers aimed at transmitting an experience that is felt rather than seen.

‘Amaara -A Journey of Love,’ choreographed by Ashley Lobo and performed by Navdhara India Dance Theatre

‘Amaara -A Journey of Love,’ choreographed by Ashley Lobo and performed by Navdhara India Dance Theatre  

Presented extensively the world over, ‘Amaara...,’ was ably assisted by Yuko Harada. Yehuda Maor was the creative advisor and ballet master. Exquisite music, effective lighting, sets, costume design, collectively aided the visual impact.

Andal Varnam, a highlight

Day two at Mini hall of Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi, featured Bhartanatyam performance by Meenakshi Srinivasan with live music ensemble.

The highlight of the repertoire was ‘Aatkollavendum Aiyane,’ the Andal varnam, Ragamalika set to Aadi talam, depicting the poetess as an intense woman with a mind of her own. Remarkably, perfect half sitting postures of the dancer drew acclamation.

Jet speed crisp jatis, well executed by the dancer were supported by immaculate nattuvangam by Jayashree Ramanathan, soulful singing by K. Hariprasad, violin by Anantha Krishnan, percussion by Vedakrishnaram producing besides rhythmic strokes, the sounds of the kili (parrot).

The concluding ashtapadi in Behaag centred round union (Sambogam) was presented in sitting and half reclined position and effectively communicated. After intermission Beej presented Jheeni, an improvised quartet featuring Sanjukta Wagh, Shruthi Vishwanath, Hitesh Dhutia, Vinayak Netke and light effects by Deepa Dharmadikari. It was an interplay of music, theatre and dance.

Beej brought out the voices of bhakti poets Kabir, Janabai, Ambigara Chowdaiyya and Chokhamela, juxtaposed alongside contemporary poems and text by Arundhathi Subramaniam. In the coming together of these voices emerged a powerful multilingual weave, breaking boundaries between the personal and collective. “It is encouraging to see that audience appreciate concepts that extend beyond boundaries of tradition, yet presented within the classical idiom,” said Sanjukta.

The final day, at the main auditorium of Ravindra Natya Mandir, opened with ‘Amba Shikhandi’ by Prakriti Dance Company. Music composition and vocals by Ramya Kapadia, nattuvangam by Kasi Aysola, Vedakrishnaram on mridangam, Embar Kannan on violin, Sruti Sagar on flute, pre-recorded at Sai Shravanam, incorporating well selected Sanskrit verses.

‘Amba Shikhandi’ by Prakriti Dance Company

‘Amba Shikhandi’ by Prakriti Dance Company  

Use of more lyrics substituting the repeated, near monotonous swaras, would have aided communication. Narration was effective and intermittent silences added to the spiritual tone. The mridangam conveyed a lot. Kasi and Dr Madhvi Venkatesh were behind the neat choreography.

The anguish of Amba, one among the three princesses of Kashi was the theme. The three sisters playing, Amba frolicking in the garden and her passion for her secret paramour King Salwa, were depicted in quick swaras. From among many royal suitors, Bhishma whisks them away. While the two sisters dress up reluctantly for the marriage ritual, Amba courageously burst out with, “Bhishma, Tumasi sarvagnya.” Bhishma lets her go. But Salwa, hurt and angry, rejects Amba. Amba then seeks revenge against Bhishma.

Blessed with Shiva’s boon, Amba ends her life in a pyre, and is reborn as Shikhandi to Drupada, but is brought up as a male child, who is finally the cause of Bhishma’s end. The story of good-bad, right-wrong was conveyed in detail.

Parshwanath Upadhye and Punyah Dance Company presented ‘Sat Gati’ with a brilliant, music ensemble. The presentation was a guide to a spiritual pathway. The rangasthalam was shown as a sacred space like a temple. Dancers entered with lights on a stage decorated with kumbham, kalasam and there was incense smoke.

Invocation to Pranava Karam Ganpati set the pace for the visual enchantment to follow. Parshwanath as Shiva and Ardhanareeswara was picture perfect. The visible demarcation of man and woman was seen in the body language of the final pose. Mata Kalika was a reaffirmation of immaculate choreography and execution. Based on lyrics from Krishnashtakam, Punyah Krishna outlined events of Krishna’s life as Navneetachora, Govardhan Giridhari. In a reversal of roles how gopis stole his clothes and dared him but had to turn away when he stood as he was, as he had nothing to hide. The music in Kaliyamardanam and Raas was amazing.

Dance workshops by Rama Vaidyanthan, Amith Kumar and Parshwanath Upadhye at different venues were also part of the Evam programme.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 6:54:48 AM |

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