Dance

A strong tandav

Vishal Krishna Photo S. Thanthoni   | Photo Credit: S_THANTHONI

When Vishal Krishna, with his angelic face and shock of curly hair, took the stage, the audience, for whom Kathak has largely meant Birju Maharaj, did not quite know what to expect.

The introduction to the dancer did not include that of the Benares gharana (which has different manifestations stemming from different families) founded by Sukhdev Maharaj, Vishal’s great grandfather and father of the late Sitara Devi.

Belonging to the 11th generation of dancers representing this line, the great Gopi Krishna being his grand uncle, Vishal’s legacy stems from what his grandmother Sitara Devi and her sisters learnt from the Lucknow gharana maestros and also what their father Sukhdev Maharaj created — a strong tandav, almost of acrobatic quality, laced with deep reverence for Viswanath.

Vishal’s starting ‘Ganga Tarangam,’ with a Kavit Paran created by Sukhdev Maharaj followed by the brief footwork, gave some indication of the stylistic identity. Then followed the nritta in teental vilambit and drut laya, with uthan on the tabla played with expertise by Vishal’s brother Kushal Krishna, after which came the improvisations in the dancer’s footwork woven into the lehra musical refrain, full of biting rhythmic clarity. All the intra-forms like Amad, ‘Dhataka Thunga’ composition, and the ‘Dhakita Dhadhakita’ rendition with gats where the rhythmic flow resembled the gallop of the horse or a rider guiding the horse were presented with an effortless precision.

Contrasting grace characterised the gat nikas sequence. The tapping feet creating varied rhythm patterns is not new for a Kathak dancer — but the tonal variations of the syllables as also the changing rhythmic accents brought out in an impeccably distinctive fashion is not given to every dancer.

Vishal’s ability for ‘chakkars’ or pirouettes at any speed, both clockwise and counter clockwise, the leg stretches and the sudden squats with a leg split on the ‘sama’, are all executed with smiling natural ease. There is in all the physicality of his style, an untouched quality which is part of this dancer, which gives his abhinaya (including the sringara sequences) an innocently seductive feel. ‘Barase Badariya Sawan’ in Miya Malhar included the ‘Mayur gat’, the peacock feather on his hair swaying with the movements of the dance. What Vishal is able to do by way of rhythmic play on the brass plate can teach a thing or two to the Kuchipudi Tarangam experts – for standing on the rim on his toes, he brings out rhythm patterns with the play of the ghungroos, the swelling of sound and its thinning till only one bell can be heard, quite phenomenal.

The dancer ended with the Tulsidas lyric ‘Thumak Chalat Ram Chandra’, a Dadra in Behag portraying mother Kausalya delighting in child Rama.

Vocal support, which was just adequate, was by Shakti Mishra and on the sitar by Anand Mishra. In both costuming and dance vocabulary and stylistic quality, Vishal’s was a first for the Chennai audience.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 7, 2021 12:14:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/A-strong-tandav/article14012112.ece

Next Story