Friday Review

Celebrating unity in diversity


In memory of late Guru Deba Prasada Das, one of the triumvirate of Odissi dance revival, who has a sizeable following among young dancers, his disciples Guru Gajendra Panda and his younger brother Binayak presented a two-day festival of dance at the IIC Auditorium. Besides Odissi, it included other dance forms like Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Mohiniyattam.

The 9th edition on the first day featured young students of local Deodhara Odissi school, who presented Ganapati stuti. It was followed by Odissi dancer Kavita Dwivedi presenting a dramatic episode of Sati Vrindavati. To protect Lord Shiva from her husband Jarasandha who had a boon that till Vrindavati’s satitva, chastity was intact, he cannot be killed, Lord Vishnu taking form of Jarasandha embraced her. Jarsandha who in his pride had sent Rahu to bring from Lord Shiva his consort unto him, had to engage in battle with enraged Lord Shiva, and since Vrindavati’s chastity was broken, he was killed. On learning the deceit of Lord Vishnu, she cursed him that he will turn into stone and worshipped as Shaligram.

Blessing Vrindavati as Sati, Lord Vishnu accepted her curse and assured her that she as Tulsi will always be placed on Lord Vishnu’s head. In Kartik month a ritual marriage of Krishna takes with plant of Tulsi. Kavita is a seasoned dancer and enacted various characters with appropriate expressions, impersonating arrogant demon Jarasandha, battle with Lord Shiva and Jarasandha, distressed Vrindavati cursing Lord Shiva, and attaining moksha as Sati. The accompanying team of musicians from Orissa gave her excellent support. Undoubtedly, it was the best number of the evening.

Shallu Jindal, disciple of Raja and Radha Reddy, did her gurus proud with her scintillating Kuchipudi Tarangam number, dancing on the rim of a brass plate, executing footsteps correctly to mnemonics of mridanga. Dancing with perfect balance on brass plate, she created favourable impression winning rounds of applause. She could have performed one more number as only one item looked too brief.

Guru Debaprasad Das’s daughter Bipanchi’s Pallavi in Kalavati and abhinaya to Banamali’s song in which Gopi describes happiness to receive beloved Krishna, appeared routine. She needs to develop her craft well as she has responsibility of carrying the legacy of her father.

How wonderful it would have been if veteran Bharatnatyam guru, dancer and choreographer Justine McCarthy had the full orchestra instead of only live singing by Sudha Ragunathan and mridnagam by Gautam. Minus talam, cymbals for nattuvangam, the performance lacked the necessary punch and impact. He could have used taped music. He performed two items, “Thodayamangalam” and padam “Krishna ni Begane Baro”. He is a master with complete command over technique and restrained abhinaya, but alas, he looked extremely austere.

Whereas the previous day’s fare was uneven, on the second day the duets and solo performances were commendable. Guru Gajendra Panda with his disciple Archita Shahu (we were told that she is Odiya film actor) presented Managlacharan, typical of Guru Debaprasad style with hall mark Sabdaswarapata which at once reminded cognoscenti of Debaprasad’s style. Guru Gajendra has a treasure trove of these compositions which describe the iconic beauty of the gods and goddesses with racy recitation. The one on Hari and Hara describing their ornaments and weapons etc., was performed with quick silver movements.

Archita Sahu displayed her ability to register subtle nuances of Gopi’s love for Krishna in Banamali’s exquisite poem ‘Mohan ..O go priya sahi’’, having seen him plying flute under Kadamb tree. The cascades of expressions of lajja, shyness, anger at Krishna’s pranks and his mesmerising touch were enacted with artistry.

Mohiniyattam exponent Gopika Varma, a name to reckon with, displayed variety of thematic content of the form explored by her. Lord Padmanabha and Lord Shiva of Kashi, were interpreted as one and she took the audience along with her singing “Chala man tum Kashi” for darshan, glimpse of Viswanatha. The delineation of birth and death and Ganga’s descent on Lord Shiva’s matted locks were performed with consummate artistry and communicative power.

In contrast was Reela Hota’s sedate, restrained evocation to the music by Rajan and Swaransha Misra, choreographed by Geetanjali Lal, as a prayer evoking Brahma, and Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurty. What stood out in her exposition of Odissi was Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra’s choreography of ‘Jago Kundalini’, in format of a pallavi. A Tantrik theme it dealt with ritualistic aspects, reiterating arousal of Kundalini Shakti which has potential of liberating the devotee. What would help Reela to enhance its impact is to have more animated expressions. Music was set by Gundecha Bandhu.

Jaipur exponent senior dancer Geetanjali Lal’s duet choreographed by her for her disciples Abhimanyu and Vidha Lal, the current stars in Kathak firmament, was set to raga Vairagi and nine beats. Displaying another version of Hari and Hara, Vidha enacting Hari’s and Abhimanyu of Hara-Lord Shiva’s epithets, one as Bansidhar, holding flute, and the other Pinakadhar, holding bow, and their various deeds and adornments, performed alternately and at times together with kavit like recitation of Bansidhar, Pinakadhar and so on, both displayed their flawless technique.

The final number Tarana set to Darbari raga and Teen taal, choreographed by Geetanjali Lal was performed with energy, spins, mnemonic syllables, foot work, elements of Gat Nikas, and touch of Jugalbandi, repartee, investing Tarana with a variety of Kathak elements, ending with breathtaking chakkars, pirouettes, the duo brought down the house. Kathak as a dance form has instant appeal of its nritta, pure dance exploring laya and taal, with foot work and dazzling audiences with pirouettes. Abhimanyu and Vidha established immediate rapport with audience with their excellent performance.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 7:27:08 AM |

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