Fire the Fiery Tale: Gauri Jog and her group captivate the audience 
- Madan Gupta, Arlington Heights, IL
March 17, 2007 

Gauri Jog, renowned dancer and choreographer from Chicago area staged their fourth in-house dance drama production on March 11, 2007 at Prairie Center for the Arts at Schaumburg. More than 450 people witnessed 'Fire the Fiery Tale' on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. 

After the successful production of Queen of Jhansi in 2005, this time Gauri Jog selected a completely innovative topic to show the evolution and importance of fire: Agni an intense element of nature. 

The program began with Ganesh Vandana, a traditional prayer to Lord Ganesha who is a prime Hindu deity, God of Knowledge and remover of obstacles. Five girls including Gauri Jog formed various poses of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva. 

The main program was presented in two parts. The first part of the program was dedicated to the basic steps and form of the classical dance style of Kathak (including toda, tukda, bhajan, thumri and tarana). Kathak is a traditional dance style from North India. Like all other classical dance forms, Kathak is made up of "building blocks." These include steps and hand movements (mudras) that are strung together along with facial expressions (bhava) and graceful gestures to tell a story. Gauri Jog's students showed series of combinations of typical foot movements and hand gestures. 

The girls then went on to perform a Thumri. Thumri is a common style of light classical Indian music. The text is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl's love for Lord Krishna. The dance described the onset of spring and all the joy and colors it brings. Gauri Jog then performed Tarana. Tarana is a vocal style in Indian music that is usually sung in a fast tempo using syllables such as na, ta, re, da, odani, etc, sounds which have their roots in the Pakhawaj drum and Kathak dance repertoire. The emphasis here is on producing rhythmic patterns using the syllables. The resulting music is very appealing and most suitable for Kathak. It is a perfect complement for the intricate footwork and Gauri received a big applause from the audience for her fast spins performed on bare knees.

The girls then performed Bollywood medley - the fun infused Bollywood dancing set to film music! The stylistic dance movements of Kathak, though classical in origin, fit in very well with the ever-popular film music. It made very beautiful viewing when the steps were included in the choreography of the typical foot-tapping music of the Indian cinema. 

The cutest lot of 4 to 6 years old girls performed the 'Dance of the Birds.' Kathak is basically a dance form that has foundations in story telling and mime. Set to music, it translates the many moods of nature. Expressing the elements of nature in dance form is an exciting journey both for the performer and the observer. The Dance of the Birds was such an expression. The joy and freedom of expression in this piece was certainly infectious!

The second half of the program was dedicated entirely to an element of nature fire. The song, Dol Dol Saagar ki Leheren, described the joyous rolling of the ocean waves, beauty and tenderness of a charming spring day and the majestic mountain scenery. The item entitled 'Elements of Nature' was performed based on a shloka (or verse) from the Atharva Veda describing our beautiful earth and the five elements.

The various dance items including 'Discovery of Fire' and 'Flame Dance' described the discovery, evolution and importance of fire in our life. Gauri Jog's senior students Alisha Benawra, Radhika Akolkar and Isha Jog and others were very successful in depicting how fire has fascinated people for thousands of years and how fire plays a big role in our lives. The dance of the 'Eternal Flame' was presented as fusion between Kathak performed by Gauri Jog and Bharatanatyam performed by Shalakha Kulkarni. The audience was mesmerized by their expressions and body movements. They also performed 'Dance of Enlightenment' based on the verses of the Rig Veda in which the purifying aspect of fire was portrayed. All this was followed by the jubilant Lezim, a folk dance and a tribal (Adivasi) dance. The next dance item also depicted multifaceted aspects of fire i.e. fire within (hunger), the flames of hatred, or the gentle glow and flame of love and friendship and just pure fire in its unfettered form which can destroy everything. 

The dance drama ended with a fusion between Gauri Jog and Shalakha Kulkarni for the song Krishna Ni Begane Baaro depicting the universal values, religious tolerance and consideration for each other. This last dance left a positive note in the minds of people about our need to unify all human kind. 

Gauri Jog has been teaching Indian classical dancing in Chicago area for the last seven years. She and her group have performed on numerous occasions at various social, political and sports events. She is very instrumental in performing at fund raising activities by various charitable organizations. Gauri Jog is also a regular visitor dancer to other cities in US collaborating with various dance schools and other styles of dance. Asked about the future plans she said she has already started working on her next production that will feature many new creative things.