When action speaks louder than words

Lakshminarayan Jena’s enchanting solo Kathak performance was a royal feast for dance aficionados

July 21, 2017 01:00 am | Updated 01:00 am IST

VERSATILE DANCER Lakshminarayan Jena in performance

VERSATILE DANCER Lakshminarayan Jena in performance

It was a treat to dance aficionados who chose to sign in for an evening of Kathak at the India Habitat Centre. Up and coming star on the dance firmament, Lakshminarayan Jena’s solo was simply mesmerising and so was his guru Mysore B Nagaraj’s prelude for each piece that his pupil showcased with dexterity.

The style of Kathak was unique though the framework was traditional. It was mostly late maestro Dr Maya Rao’s style that is a blend of the Lucknow and Jaipur gharana. In the scheduled space and time, Jena offered the audience a platter of the most varied and delectable fare that one can ever ask for. Here was a performance that was not only stylised, suave and sedately classical but also highly educative to the uninitiated viewer so that appreciation was spontaneous. Titled “Prekshya” (viewer/audience), the recital touched upon the various aspects of Kathak like the katha vaachan (story) in the form of an ashtapadi (eight line verse), Natwari, Tukda, Paran, et al. And within these parameters, the dancer explored the realms of Anand Tandav, taal, khayal, tarana with verve and vigour that was astounding. The viewers sat glued to their seats as Jena changed his costumes with every piece in keeping with the content which very few solo artistes care to do without leaving the audience and stage vacant for more than a few minutes. His ghatbhav was spot on ; rarely did this critic see footwork and gesticulations literally speak more than a spoken word of the verse/song, especially in a technique-based dance like Kathak.

It was something of an artistic articulation where eyes spoke to hands which in turn conveyed to the feet to express in toto the emotive element within the pure mnemonics. If the Madhukhauns in Roopak which begins with “Mangalam Bhagwan Vishnu” and goes on to laud Vridanvan playboy Krishna urging for release from pain which is hindrance to spiritual progress, the Hamsadhwani opening was an invocation to Lord Ganesha. The taal was excellence in technique where the gath bhedh (varying pace) was undertaken with elan; the slight sway of the dancer’s body in the fraction of a second pause between the bol could not miss our eyes because of its aesthetic appeal.

The depiction of a bud blooming through hands held above his head and later sprinkled on to soil was picturesque. This 30-minute non-stop dance was rhythm personified. The Surdas bhajan “Shri Rangaranga Nachata Suranga...” was taken up in a sober off-white costume, an abhinaya-laden piece where the dancer concludes with the saint-poet’s signature by closing his eyes to convey a blind Surdas which was strikingly original!

Complete package

Dagar Brothers composition, “Chaturang Ang...” was a complete package of sahitya, nritya, bol (syllabic utterances) and a lovely tarana. Alternating between Shiva and Shakti with lightning pace and clarity, Jena displayed virtuosity in working out his nritta to tabla with his right leg and pakhawaj with his left.

The culminating Anand Tandav, choreographed by Guru Nagaraj, was the highlight of the evening where the gath was showcased with Lord Shiva’s gait with his trident (trishul); playing the damru with his hand like flash of lightning and the mridang with his feet — he wrapped up the footwork patterns with commendable alacrity.

Shankar Shyamkot’s mellifluous vocal rendition made the pre-recorded presentation lively. India Habitat Centre hosted the show.

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