Karnataka Nritya Kala Parishad celebrates 30 years
- Probal Gupta, Bangalore   
e-mail: probs_gupta12@yahoo.co.in
August 31, 2009 

If classical dance especially Bharatanatyam has become a household name in Bangalore, it is because of the assiduous efforts of the major Gurus of Bharatanatyam who set up The Karnataka Nritya Kala Parishad 30 years back. Mention must be made of Gurus Leela Ramanathan, BK Vasanthalakshmi and Sharada Rudra, Late Padmini Rao, Late Keshav Murthy, who with their assiduous efforts have made the Parishad a sturdy haven for all artists from all forms of classical dances ranging from Kathakali to Kuchipudi, to Odissi and Kathak to work together in harmony under its tranquil roof. 

The Karnataka Nritya Kala Parishad completed its 30 years and to commemorate the same, the major gurus of the state came together to celebrate with a dance festival on August 28 at Ravindra Kalakshetra, one of the highest capacity best known auditoriums within the heart of the city. The festival showcased only Bharatanatyam by different gurus. Had it been interspersed with other forms like Kuchipudi or Kathak, it could have diluted the monotony.

The program showcased all group choreographies commencing with Bharatanjali group of B Bhanumati, one of the best known gurus of the State, who is very well known for presenting neat and ingenious choreographies with wonderful geometrical patterns. Commencing with a Kriti in praise of Lord Vigneshwara, "Sree Mahaganapati Revatumam" set to Raag Kalyani in Adi Talam, the item stood out for neat geometrical patterns leading to splendid maneuvering. The overall slow pace invoking the deity aggrandized the overall effect. Paying obeisance to her legendary Guru Late Dandayudhapani Pillai, Bhanumati moved on to a Jatiswaram composed by him. Awesome prototypes outlining different angles of the proscenium to execute the adavus were juxtaposed neatly by the students and definitely reflect Bhanumati's perseverance in training them along with her sister-in-law Sheela Chandrasekhar who played nattuvanar for Bharatanjali's performance of the evening. Concluding with "Mahadeva Shiva Sambho" composed by Tanjavur Shankar in Ragam Revati set to Adi Talam, Bhanumati emerged as one of the best choreographers with Natesha Kauthuvam interspersed amidst the charanams. 

Lalitha Srinivasan, who is presently the president of Karnataka Nritya Kala Parishad is one of the senior most gurus of the State and is a sole proponent of the Mysore style of Bharatanatyam. Trained under the legendary Venkatalakshamma, her choreography speaks about indigenous methodology that she is trying to promote amidst the popular Kalakshetra, Pandanallur and Vazhuvoor styles. She conveyed a patriotic fervour through her recently composed 'Kavya Nritya.' One of the best productions of the evening, her well trained students dressed in tricoloured costume paid obeisance to Mother India. Next was an ode to Ocean with mesmerizing lyrics "Ni Rae Ni Rae Aha Nirae" sung tunefully by the vocalist along with Lalitha Srinivasan juxtaposing, making the auditorium reverberate harmoniously. The costumes were tastefully designed. Rendition of a Ragamalika stuti to commemorate the four religions of the country - Hindu, Muslim, Christian and the Buddhist - transmitted the necessary message to the rasikas, "Unity in Diversity."

Vasanthalakshmi, an old alumni of Kalakshetra, presented her daughter in a duet  choreography with one of her male students. Commencing the recital with a newly composed Panchagowla Stuti by Doraiswamy Iyengar, Vasanthalakshmi established the true mark of the Kalakshetra Bani through her daughter disciple. In praise of Lord Ganesha set to Gowla ragam, the item moved on to paying obeisance to Lord Shiva or Kedareshwara in Kedaragowla Raga, Parvati in Riti Gowla Raga, Murugan in Maya Malavagowla Raga and concluding with a benediction to the language Kannada with Kanada Raga. Next was poet Jayadeva's astapadi "Natha Harae Jaganatha harae" where her daughter's solo nritya aspect was worthy of notice. 

The festival concluded with Navarasam, a dramatic production by Pulakeshi Kasturi who still dances at this age with so much meticulousness. Usage of good recorded music with a stunning melodious vocal support by Janhavi Jayaprakash intercepted with dialogues in Kannada describing the various episodes from Hindu Mythology with high dramatic sequences and good lighting, embellished the production.

Bharati Venugopal, who supported gurus B Bhanumati and Vasanthalakshmi with her awesome vocal support, deserves a standing applause. 

Probal Gupta trained in Kathakali under two legends Late Kalamandalam Govindan Kutty and Guru Fact Padmanabhan under whom he is presently continuing his specialization in Stree Vesham genre of Kathakali. He has also been a student of Bharati Shivaji. His active performance career has taken him to prestigious dance festivals. He is an empanelled artist of Doordarshan and has established a Solo Margam for Stree Vesham Kathakali under the able guidance of his Guru Fact Padmanabhan. Probal is a graduate in English Hons from the University of Kolkata.