Ikkeri Utsava 
- Priya Raman, Bangalore 
e-mail: priyans03@gmail.com 
Photos courtesy: Dr. Raghavendra

March 17, 2010

"The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil"  
– Anonymous

Ananya, a cultural organization of Bangalore, is well known for its sincere efforts in promoting art at even unknown quarters of the state. One such attempt was through ‘Ikkeri Utsava’ that took place on February 15, 2010.

The pursuit was of excellence, the best thing to excel in was art amidst the calm and tranquillity of Ikkeri. A few kilometers on a wild stretch from Sagara lies the small town Ikkeri centered by the Ikkeri temple, a colourful blend of Indian heritage, serenity and greenery. So what better a way to soak in this atmosphere than through a festival of music and dance!

Artistes from Bangalore, both young and renowned, shed their inhibitions in the hustle bustle of Bangalore to travel together, recounting experiences and memories. Whether it was discussing the compeering script, or fixing the points of handover in the jugalbandi or young guys arguing over issues or veterans indulging in getting their beats right, or just simple fun, travel sure made that bonding. 

A rising bright sun over the Ikkeri temple welcomed us to some unassuming hospitality by the hosts who embraced us into their homes and hearts, discussed our artistic connections and served us sumptuous meals time to time. Artistes were appreciative of everything. Some tried to learn the local language, few went for silent nature walks and the rest tied up for some gruelling practice in a place which brought out the best in them. 

Manasi Prasad and Saudamini Kumar 
Vyjayanthi Kashi 
As the smell of spicy bhajjis, hot coffee and crispy bhelpuri filled the air, it was sunset and time to get on the make up and off to the stage. Manasi Prasad and Saudamini Kumar commenced the programme with a Carnatic-Hindustani jugalbandhi, an amalgamation which set the tune for the evening. The evergreen kriti 'Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma' and Marathi Abhang were very well received. Their complementing each other on stage and enjoyment of music was a treat to watch. 

Vyjayanthi Kashi followed with a vibrant Kuchipudi performance in a traditional repertoire. Her Putini Samhara and Tarangam (dance on a brass plate) on a carpeted stage was commendable, and applauded by her home crowd who enjoyed every bit of her performance. 

Sharmila Mukherjee and Debyani Seth
Pravin Godkhindi 

The temple backdrop was a picture perfect set up for an Odissi duet by Sharmila Mukhejee and Devyani Seth. Sculptures synthesized with the dance on stage as the dancers struck elegant poses and moved in tandem. A tailored to the occasion presentation of 'Ganga' by Sharmila Mukherjee formed the silver lining. A talavadya jugalbandhi by Pravin Godkhindi and troupe was nothing short of blissful. The team defined what enjoyment of music was. Veteran musicians and young upcoming artistes sharing the stage is a rarity and if a youngster gets a pat on the back, all the more welcome!

Rukmini Vijayakumar and Parshwanath Upadhaye presented a well thought and conceived, intelligently choreographed and synchronized presentation of Bharatanatyam.

The kriti depicting Lord Shiva's deeds in a story format with the two dancers as the protagonists commanded attention. As the midnight got chiller, shawls and sweaters came out as people got set to witness a Kathakali performance. In his minukku adornment, Probal Gupta presented Kathakali that was authentic, yet was entertaining and reachable that every character he portrayed on stage was transformed effortlessly.  Vaishnava Janato, his research work, showcased the culmination of a well conceived idea and intelligent choreography. 

Rukmini Vijayakumar and Parshwanath Upadhaye
Probal Gupta
Tandava - the vibrance
At 3am in the morning when the world sleeps, Ikkeri Utsava kept all awake. In fact, whistles welcomed Tandava, a group of four young male dancers (Srinivas, Ananth, Karthik and Somashekar) in an energetic recital. If anything, this group is a mirror of what passion, commitment and zeal can do. These are youngsters who have fought their way to become what they are on stage – scintillating!  Though they cut short their performance, the Ragam Tanam Pallavi was truly a show of vibrancy. 

What Ananya did through the Ikkeri Festival was simple. One, it had young dancers rub shoulders with established veterans, where only art prevailed. Two, rural Karnataka got the best of dance and music that they received with full enthusiasm.

Priya Raman is a Bharatanatyam Dancer from Bangalore. She has been conducting interactive workshops on classical dance for school children as an Education Consultant with The Times of India - Newspaper in Education (NIE). Having a passion and flair for writing, Priya writes on dance and dance related issues in Ananya's monthly magazine Abhivyakthi