The auditorium at PSG CAS rings with the sound of ghunghroos. Twelve dancers sway to the beats of a tabla, as they hold the tip of their flowing anarkalis. The stage is illuminated with red, white and blue lights. Kathakitathom, presented by Abhinava Dance Company, Bangalore and organised by Coimbatore Metropolitan Round Table 62 and Coimbatore Metropolitan Ladies Circle 23 has begun. It is a contemporary dance recital that marries classical kathak and modern dance.
On the centre of the stage are Nirupama and Rajendra, who head the dance company. The first production, “Rang” is a blend of abhinaya and nritya . It is folowed by a dance-drama depicting the mythology of Shakuntala and Dushyantha.
The love story is seen through the eyes of the bees who tell the flowers that in Shakuntala, they have a flower more beautiful than any other flower. The whole production employs a mix of Western music, flute and Indian percussion.
The dancers dressed like flowers and bees transport us into the magical forest where Shakuntala and Dushyantha fall in love. Nirupama is the doe-eyed Shakuntala and Rajendra the brave, handsome Dushyantha. The lyrics of this song are in both Kannada and English.
This is followed by the story of Meera Bai re-imagined. Unlike the conventional narrative, Meera’s pleas and songs do not go unheard. We see Krishna come to life, listen to her hymns and watch her with love as she sings her love for him. He shakes the boughs of the tree so that she can pick the flowers. When Meera dresses his idol up, Krishna smiles and adjusts his veshti .
Nirupama is the saint poet and her beloved Krishna is Rajendra. The dance is choreographed to a melodious Thumri, sung by Sangeetha Kati. The performance ends with Meera and Krishna dancing in joy.
The next production is “Abhimanyu” that depicts the war scene in Mahabharatha , in which the 16-year-old warrior prince battles with the Kauravas. Somashekhar. C as Abhimanyu is amazing with his supple moves. The choreography deserves mention. The dancers create brilliant patterns to depict the Chakravyuh. They pump their fists in the air and jump high on stage in the battle scene. The red lights, rolling drum beats and the blood thirsty expressions on the dancers’ faces add to the mood.
Nirupama explains the story and technique followed in each production before each piece. “We have derived techniques from the Natyashasthra for the piece on Abhimanyu. For the Shakunthala production, we derived inspiration from the fairy-tale films of Walt Disney. Our myths have tremendous scope of reinterpretation. We have also presented a children’s version of Valmiki Ramayana , which was quite popular with our young audience,” she says.
It is kathak next as Nirupama and Rajendra demonstrate their footwork. Placing the mikes on the ground, the dancers engage in a conversation with their feet—Nirupama taking the lead and Rajendra recreating her beats. She also urges the audience to join them as she asks us to clap our hands, along with them.
The evening comes to an end like it had begun, with pulsating tabla beats resonating in the auditorium.
(The proceeds of the event go for the rural development of targeted villages.)