Adhyaya: writing one's own chapter in dance... The fourth edition 

August 27, 2008 
The fourth chapter of Adhyaya at Seva Sadan on August 1, 2008, happened on a day that saw not much of the sun as it was an "Eclipse" day! However, the sun shone quite bright and fierce on stage that was witnessed by a bunch of art enthusiasts and artistes. Adhyaya is a self-funded event, organized by Nritarutya headed by artistic director Mayuri Upadhya, that is meant to promote young promising talents in dance as an effort to give back to art what it has given to us. The performances were reviewed by 4 panelists namely M.Sathyu (Filmmaker and theatre person), Minal Prabhu (Bharatanatyam guru), Chippy Ganjee (Actor/ Director/ Journalist) and Dipanjali Bedi (Kathak teacher/ artist with Dhwani Dance Repertory).  

The evening started with a bang, a lovely Kamsale Nritya performance by Ningaraju and friends, who came all the way from Mysore and let the crowd savour the rich flavour of Karnataka’s folk art form.  

Following this, Kathak dancer Anuj Mishra put up a brilliant performance and blew the audience away with his technical expertise. The son of renowned Pt. Arjun Mishra, Anuj carries forward the rich Lucknowi Gharana of Kathak. His performance featured a "Bandish," which was split into two pieces. The first presentation was a traditional sequence called "Aarambh" in which he performed the Teentaal in slow and medium paces. He started with an Upaz, and moved on to Thaat, which is one of the characteristic features of Lucknowi Gharana. He gradually moved on to Uthan, Paranzudi Amad, Tukde, Thode, Tihais, Ladi and finally ended with 55 chakkars. 

The concluding item of Anuj's presentation was a technical piece in teentaal dhrut laya (fast speed) that he concluded with 103 chakkars.  

The audience was carried away with his brilliant footwork and breath-taking chakkars. The panelists were of the unanimous opinion that Anuj’s training was evidently excellent and he exhibited a lot of showmanship in his performance. He gave the audience what they wanted.  

The second performance for the evening was by a Croatian contemporary dancer, Maja Drobac. Maja presented a piece called 'Dream Catcher,' inspired by a concept among the native Indians of the North America. Dream catcher is a wheel that hangs above the head of the sleeper and is filled with strings like in a cobweb which catches all the negative dreams of the person who sleeps. Dream Catcher was an improvisation based dance piece, danced according to very strict rules and structure. It is divided into 7 individual units, each occupied with a different task and quality of movement. 

Among the three, this performance created a stir among the audience for reasons both negative and positive. One, her depiction of the theme was mostly abstract and symbolic, unlike the Kathak or the Bharatanatyam performance. There was abundant room for thought and imagination and there were some lovely body movements to accompany with. The panelists had their observations to make.  

Minal Prabhu was of the opinion that her body movements were very good and this opinion was backed by Dipanjali Bedi who found it pleasant to watch her move. 

Chippee Gangjee commented, "She had a vision but was unable to translate it. However, she had good control over her movements." 

M S Sathyu remarked that Maja's performance overshadowed the rest. "She danced extremely well. Her posture, body movements, expressions, everything was beautiful!" 

The students of Kalakshetra, K H Haritha and Rajamally performed a keerthanam highlighting the rhythmic concept of 'Yathi' that depicted specific patterns for finishing a rhythmic combination within the taala. The choreography used the five different Yathis, namely, Sama yathi, Mridanga yathi, Damaru yathi, Gopucha yathi and Srothovaha yathi to portray Shiva’s dance in ecstasy.  

The strong Kalakshetra expertise, lovely costume, skilful, pretty dancers... That was some of the remarkable aspects of the Bharatanatyam performance by the duo. Their stage presence swayed the audience, although the theme chosen was quite complicated for a lay person to understand.  

Panelist Dipanjali Bedi remarked: "Both girls are obviously extremely skilled dancers with a clear understanding of their forms. Their choice of performance piece was intelligent as in the short time available we were able to witness their command over both the pure dance technique and the expressiveness that lies at the heart of all Indian classical dance forms. From their beautifully draped costumes to the quality of their musical accompaniment, every aspect was aesthetically pleasing." 

Minal Prabhu agreed with her saying, "Both the dancers were so beautifully synchronized in their movements that it almost looked like a solo piece. But I rather they did complimentary movements than similar ones." 

M S Sathyu felt that the girls' grammar and footwork was good. Chippee Gangjee felt the Kalakshetra performers were very vibrant. "Their training showed and their expressions were very good. Even though they were mirroring each other's movements, there were individualistic." 

Overall, the fourth chapter of Adhyaya showcased some technical brilliance, flashes of creativity, some innovations and more than all, pure passion for dance.

For clips of the Adhyaya festival: