Two artistes, Anonna Guha and Paris Laxmi, performed Kathak and Flamenco at ‘Confluence’, an event hosted at Bandra Fort, Mumbai, by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and Celebrate Bandra Trust.
There are similarities between the two art forms. Both are vibrant, fast moving and graceful with firm footwork.
Anonna Guha is versatile. A scholar and researcher, who trained under her father Tushar Guha in various areas of performing arts (Kathak, Folk and Western), such as acting, singing, choreography and personality development. A Visharad in Kathak from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, a graded artiste of Doordarshan, a recipient of Menaka award and Woman of Substance Award, she has over several dance performances to her credit.
Paris Laxmi, dancer and actress, was born in France and comes from an artistic family. From the age of five, she was trained in various dance forms such as Contemporary, Ballet, Jazz, Bharatanatyam, Hip-Hop and Flamenco. She moved to Kerala to find her cultural roots, and runs the Kalashakti School of Arts in Vaikom.
The artistic chemistry between the two was the clincher. “In fact at Kalaghoda Arts Festival last year I had selected Paris Laxmi to perform Flamenco. After I felicitated her as the dance curator of the fest, we did an impromptu jugalbandi and the crowd loved it. The idea of coming together was sparked off by festival director, Brinda Miller,” said Anonna
The entire repertoire took shape in five hours, two days prior to the show, with the dancers and guru Dr.Tushar Guha working on the pieces. Anonna chose the final Spanish music, while Paris decided that the introductory number should be Indian.
The opening performance set to Indian classical music indicated the individual traits of Kathak and Flamenco and identified the similarities between the two styles.
Next came two Flemenco solo performances by Paris Laxmi to the vocals of the late Camaron de la Isla of Spain, a famous singer of Flamenco music. ‘Tangos de la Sultana’ was packed with passion and fire and ‘Como El Agua,’ meaning ‘Like the water’ in Spanish, flowed happily.
Flamenco’s rich history can be traced back to the diversity of cultures and influences from various gypsy tribes from India, Iran and Egypt, undergoing centuries of socio-cultural evolution, before becoming what it is today.
In the next piece, Anonna welcomed Paris with her Kathak style. Retaining their individual identities, the artistes blended in a flow of universal togetherness.
Paris with the Spanish fan and Anonna with a dupatta beautifully utilised these props to converse as two friends. The dance dialogue ended with them exchanging their cultural symbols, with Anonna dancing with the fan and Laxmi with the dupatta.
This was followed by Trivat by Anonna, which established the intricacies of Kathak: its grace, pirouettes and elaborate foot work. The gradual increase in the ‘gati’ to a crescendo created a charged ambience.
The finale of confluence was aptly termed ‘Rejoice,’ an exchange and acceptance of two styles. Set to a Spanish song with both dancers covering the stage and clapping intermittently, holding their colourful flowing skirts, the presentation was elegant and encouraged the audience to clap along. The performance ended, but the audience wanted more. So egged on by Anonna’s clapping, the audience provided the rhythmic taal and what followed was a spontaneous ‘sawaal jawaab’ with Anonna posing questions with her footwork and ghungroo and Paris answering by tapping her feet. The Tihai done by both ended with the audience clap on sam and amidst loud cheering.
Intelligent anchoring, interspersed with mild humour by Girish Dalvi added to the enjoyment.