Dance

Salutation to the river

The highlight of 'Namami Gange' is the choreography.

The highlight of 'Namami Gange' is the choreography.  

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‘Namami Gange’ was a brilliant choreography presented by Ratikanth Mohapatra.

Ratikanth Mohapatra, son of the legendary guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, comes out with a new production every year. This year the theme was on Ganga, a river almost deified by every Hindu worth the name.

‘Namami Gange’, a salutation to one of our major rivers, was a theme which had mythological reference and topicality too. In Ratikanth’s hands the mundane becomes verse in motion and the myth turns into magic. What made the ballet unique in the first place was that unlike our mythologicals which personify Ganga as a divine woman, here she was for most part portrayed as a river and that meant her entry, exit had to be a flow of water. No props, no digital backdrops-that is not to be expected of this Guru’s school! A group of eight dancers, dressed in greenish-blue hued Odissi costume amazed the audience out of their wit by gyrating in a squatting posture, balancing themselves on their toes, all in a single file, winding like the flowing river. It was way too beautiful as the pace of the river was also shown in full velocity! A daunting task done with effortless ease by the young dancers. By the same token, the swirling waters of the Ganga were displayed through intertwining of the group creating the illusion of a whirlpool in the mighty river.

The ‘yagna’ scene was fascinating where the group converged gesticulating flames and fire with the red stage lights enhancing the effect to perfection. The nritta to druth provided the required effect. The emergence of Ganga after the Bhageeratha penance was equally electrifying. The dancers formed a circle facing the audience, which meant they had to depend on the sense of timing and music to swirl around facing each other as Ganga emerges from the centre.

Then falling into a single file, the group fall behind one dancer who represents Shiva and the Ganga which flows from his matted hair is shown with the dancers forming a tunnel gateway from which the last dancer emerges and all others similarly follow again giving the impression of a newly emerged river in full spate.

Lord Shiva is depicted as Gowrinath with Sati as his better half. The funeral taking place at one of the three holy centres where the Ganga flows, viz. Haridwar, Prayag (Triveni) and Kashi was a beautiful piece of artistry.

In a split second, we find the dancers effortlessly pick up one among them (male dancer) and turn him into a corpse, which was amusing too! At no point of time were these brilliant pieces of choreography ever take refuge in props, nor was Lord Shiva made up in the run-of-the-mill attire with all his paraphernalia hanging over him, nor Ganga made an appearance with a white costume and loose tresses flowing all over her back. In fact, they were no designated characters.

Any dancer could emulate a Shiva or Sati or Bhageeratha or Ganga; the song in Sanskrit moved on seamlessly and the dancers mimed with footwork at times in absolute slow movement to suit the occasion. The sync and symmetry remained undisturbed at all times; in a word it was perfection at its best.

The pre-recorded music enriched the ballet.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 11:53:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/namami-gange-was-a-brilliant-choreography-presented-by-ratikanth-mohapatra/article7818180.ece

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