Dance

Young, able and willing

Rajashri Praharaj in performance   | Photo Credit: 07dfrkothari1

Mumbai-based Uma Dogra, the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee for Kathak for 2014, a disciple of late Durgalal, the legendary dancer of Jaipur Gharana, celebrated the 25th year of her institution Samved Society for Performing Arts, with Raindrops Festival of Indian Classical Dance at Ravindra Natya Mandir (Mini theatre) in Mumbai recently, featuring the young talents of Mohiniattam, Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance forms.

For the past two decades, she has been organising two major dance festivals in Mumbai, in memory of her guru – Pandit Durgalal Festival and the Raindrops Festival. Over 200 dancers have participated in Raindrops Festival, some of whom have made a name for themselves like Vaibhav Arekar and Sandhya Purecha (Bharatanatyam), Daksha Mashruwala, Jhelum Paranjape, (Odissi), Sunanda Nair and Mandakini Trivedi, (Mohiniattam), Lata Sana (Manipuri).

Not limiting to inviting young dancers from Mumbai only but also calling those from Banaras, Kolkata, Delhi, Bhubaneswar, Raindrops Festival has become one of the most important platforms for young dancers.

Radhika Nair displayed her virtuosity reflecting training under Kanak Rele. Graceful, leisurely and unhurried movements revealing salient features of the dance form, Radhika warmed up with a lullaby by Iriyaman Tampi evoking motherly love dismissing the beauty of the full moon compared to the beauty of her offspring. The finale in music composed by Kavalam Panicker in Samant Malahari Panchari in Sopan Sangeetam stood out for her command over the form and music.

The star of the evening was Namrata Gupta. Arresting stage presence, eloquent expressions through eyes and selection of thematic content of nature, pallavi set to Malhar raga, followed by number incorporating navarasa, nine sentiments, Namrata drew attention to her vibrant dancing and bold approach towards the dance form with equal felicity to its sensuous qualities and sculpturesque beauty. Here is a dancer worth watching for in Odissi.

Rina Mehta in Kathak epitomised Chitresh Das style. Trained with meticulous care by Chitresh Das Rina in khade paan ki tatkar, generated nostalgia for some of us who had seen Chitresh Das perform with great energy. The bhajan Shyamsundar was full of bhakti element.

Shreya Ayyub, to the recorded music in nritta number set to Brahmatala, succeeded in revealing complexities of tala as explained by Darshana Jhaveri. Telena choreographed by Guru Bipinsingh often seen as a group number, in solo similar to tarana and tillana looked attractive with typical Manipuri aharya.

But the evening belonged to Vishal Krishna who indeed came like a typhoon and went like a storm. Typical of Benaras gharana, he is a star and knows how to captivate his audience. Looking androgynous with curly hair and sweet visage, he transcended the gender astounding audience with his boundless energy, reminding us of his uncle Gopi Krishna. He performed with one leg horizontal, a la pirouette of a ballet dancer, and fell on the floor with a split position winning rounds of applause. He announced ‘upaj’ and forgetting ‘upaj’, performed ‘amad’ in excitement reciting the amad mnemonics! However, it was obvious that the audience was eating out of his hands. He has improved a lot and is now careful in not talking too much as other Kathak dancers do and straightaway performs the dance numbers.

Be it dancing on a copper plate or executing tatkar, with tintinnabulation of one bell out of hundred bells, he just casts a spell and retains his fidelity to Benaras gharana. Bravo Vishal!

On the final day as ill luck would have it, Bharatanatyam dancer Mrinalini Biswas created a poor impression because her recorded music was inaudible. The movement did not match, the dancer and the music were at variance even though the vanam was elaborate with engaging sancharis. Lord Shiva receiving Pranava mantra from Muruga, his own son who turns into a Guru, the impact left much to be desired.

Another disappointment was Kathak by Anuj Mishra, the handsome young prince charming. So much was expected from him, as his father Arjun Mishra was accompanying him on padhant, recitation of mnemonics, bols, for his performance. Unfortunately, Anuj, otherwise has a commendable sense of costuming that enhances his personality, donned a crown as seen in Mathura rasaleela, that looked gaudy. His desire to impress the audience with breakneck speed was further compounded by Kalinath Mishra’s loud accompaniment on tabla, which robbed the presentation of sukun, tranquillity, peace, repose. Anuj is a brilliant dancer. He has to be careful if he has to keep his reputation as a star performer.

The evening was salvaged by Rajashri Praharaj with her memorable Odissi choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra and sung melodiously by Jatin Sahoo, reminding us of, as Shekhar Sen, the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi said, late Raghunath Panigrahi. There was a Triveni Sangam, confluence of percussion instruments, so brilliantly handled by Ratikant Mahapatra, vocal by Jatin Sahoo and exquisite abhinaya by Rajashri impersonating characters of Rama, Lakshamana, Sita, Ravana, Jatayu in quick succession with deep understanding. That Rajashri rose to praiseworthy heights in her expressions, spoke volumes for her maturity.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 6:51:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/raindrops-festival-of-indian-classical-dance/article7508411.ece

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