Kala Ghoda Festival: Tales of the Black Horse 
Text & pics: Ranjana Dave, Mumbai 
e-mail: ranjana_rocks@yahoo.co.in 
February 24, 2007 

The Kala Ghoda Festival of Arts, held between 3rd and 11th February 2007, really lived up to its name this year. Paintings, music, dance, it had everything, and not just a little bit of everything! 

This year, the dance section of the festival was curated by noted Mohiniattam danseuse Mandakini Trivedi, who stated that she worked towards making sure that a plethora of dance forms were included. 

Sonal Mansingh
Gotipuas of Konark Natya Mandap
The classical dance fiesta began with Sonal Mansingh, who performed on Day One of the festival in the picturesque Horniman Circle Gardens. The sylvan surroundings greatly complemented her presentation, which was based on Krishna. 

Sunday, February 4, saw the Gotipuas from Konark Natya Mandap (KNM) come and leave the audience with their mouths hanging wide open on witnessing their feats of dexterity in Bandha Nritya. Apart from their extreme agility, these little boy dancers attired as girls are very endearing with their childlike and innocent expressions.  

Mohiniattam dancer Mandakini Trivedi also presented an innovative Shiva-Parvati Vivah based on three dance styles – Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam and Kathakali.  

Vandana Alase-Hazra and her Bharatanatyam troupe performed at the Kala Ghoda amphitheatre on February 5. February 6 was a day for Odissi, and Jhelum Paranjape and her troupe from Smitalay performed an interesting mix of traditional Odissi, which left many art lovers in the audience expressing their desire to learn the dance form. The innovatively choreographed 'Batu Nritya' was one of the high points of the program. 

Smitalay troupe
Priya Singh and Priyanki Gupta
Sandhya Purecha held a demonstration on mudras in Indian dance that spoke about much more than their use in dance, on February 7.  

On Thursday, February 8, Priya Singh and Priyanki Gupta, both students of Sharmila Biswas, made a presentation titled 'Odissi through the ages.' They did explain some of the contributions of folk dance to Odissi through their demonstration. But they did not go over some of the other aspects of the history of Odissi, like the construction of some famous temples, the Mahari and Gotipua tradition, Jayantika etc in detail and thus their presentation on the above topic was not well-rounded.  

Vaibhav Arekar, the Bharatanatyam dancer from Lasya Dance Academy, performed with his troupe at the amphitheatre on February 8. The presentation was well-organised, with their own compere reading out a choreographer's note before each piece, with the correct pronunciations.  

Pronunciation was a major issue here as some of the volunteers who doubled up as comperes messed up words in Sanskrit and other languages. Thus Gotipuas became Gotipuos, Chhau became Chaahu, and so on. 

Vaibhav Arekar’s troupe
On Friday, February 9, Kathakali dancer Vikraman Pillai and his student Chitra gave an elaborate lecture demonstration on Kathakali that gave people a bird's eye view of the dance form. It was quite a well-attended event, held at NGMA’s cozy amphitheatre. Everything from eye exercises to full-fledged abhinaya pieces were covered in a short and sweet manner.  

An hour later, Ileana Citaristi and Saswat Joshi began their show at the amphitheatre. They presented three items – a piece on Tantra, a Pallavi in Raga Bhairavi based on exploration and the story of Chitrangada. 

Ileana Citaristi and Saswat Joshi
Tibetan dancers 
The area seemed pretty empty when it began, but it filled up very quickly, with the crowds increasing as the sun dipped further into the sea. In fact, there was good attendance at all the dance events held at the amphitheatre, something that is not very common in Mumbai. Maybe it was because they didn't drive away the too scruffy looking people who may not be allowed into auditoriums for such spaces. And this inclusion is really nice to see, because it was evident that many of these 'scruffy' people displayed a genuine interest in the dance performances they saw and some of them were much better behaved than the more genteel crowd present there.  

Saturday, February 10, was witness to a poorly attended Mayurbhanj Chhau workshop by Ileana Citaristi at NGMA. But the workshop was a lot of fun for the seven or eight brave-hearts who chose to participate! In contrast to this, it was quite ironic to think of the overcrowded auditorium full of eager participants for the cha-cha workshop held on February 8.  

At the amphitheatre on Saturday, Darshana Jhaveri and her troupe presented a dance of drums in the Manipuri style.  

On Sunday, a production by Inner Temple using movements from Kalari, Malkhamb and contemporary vocabulary titled 'Pancha Mahabhuta' was showcased at the amphitheatre.  

Apart from these performers, Tibetan dancers performed at the festival almost daily.  

The Kala Ghoda Festival was like a shower that quelled the drought of interesting dance performances in the city to an extent. We hope there are better and brighter installments of the festival waiting to happen!  

Ranjana Dave learns Odissi and  Hindustani classical music.  She contributes regularly to narthaki.com and is a budding journalist