Sai Nrityotsava - 16

September 23, 2010

On the 1st of September, no seats were available in Seva Sadan, Bangalore, for those who came after the hour for the monthly Sai Nrithyotsava -16. The extended monsoon rains did not deter the connoisseurs of dance from attending this festival. This seems to be good proof of its popularity for wholesome classical entertainment. The addition of the Natya series between the Nrithya segments gave a different dimension.

Tanka arch
Aane netti patti
In the past four festivals, one saw stage backdrops that were unique. Starting with a Prabavali of fire inspired by the Tanka paintings of Tibet in one festival, a wall of Jhali and four ornate pointed arches of Jaipur Mahals in another, a gigantic replica of the “Aane netti patti” of Kerala in the previous festival, this utsava saw a replica of a silver temple door complete with pillars, beams and brackets embellished with silver lotus, from Karnataka. Through these backdrops, Nishant Aravindakshan and Shakthi R Shetty of Articulate gave a distinct touch to stage craft. These visual arts were no distraction in appreciating the dances performed in front of them. In fact, it complemented the performance.

As a tribute to two Indian classical dance forms Bharatanatyam and Odissi, the dancers held a mirror of religious and philosophical blend reflecting the similarities and distinctions between the two dance genres. S Raghunandan in Bharatanatyam and Manasi Pandya in Odissi, presented Naman based on Pushpanjali and mangalacharan, invoking divine energy for embarking on the evening’s dance journey. ‘Nrithyabhinayam’ saw religious episodes with contrasting representations of Goddess Durga in Odissi and Mahishasura in Bharatanatyam while ‘Nrithyarpanam’ showcased elements from Tillana and ‘Mokshya.’ In trying to balance between tradition and modernity, both the artistes took away the prescribed beauty. Being physically big dancers, they would also do well to pay attention to work towards a trim physique.

S Raghunandan and Manasi Pandya
Aparajita Sharma
In the second segment of the Nrityotsava, Aparajita Sharma lined up a Kauthuvam, a bhajan and a Tillana, which she performed with neat lines and befitting expressions. The Natesha Kauthuvam set to Nattai raga and adi tala, was embellished with karanas that ended with sculpture like momentary freezes. The bhajan in Sindhu Bhairavi-adi tala was justified with subtle expressions of a Sringara Nayika in Meera through her poetry “Jo tum todo piya.” Meera’s determination to hold on to the lotus feet of Krishna even if he desired to forsake her was effectively portrayed. The artist’s dedication to dance and desire for perfection in the nritta was amply seen in Tillana in Desh raga set to adi tala.
Articulate and Sai Arts International jointly presented their Natya Series-3 in motifs of Odissi. In this series of narrating the puranic stories behind medicinal plants and trees that are native to India, N Kavyashree choreographed this dance drama on the story of the origin of the BILVA tree. Goddess Lakshmi found two lotus flowers less during her Shivarchana. Considering getting up to get some more, an interruption to such a holy ritual, and remembering how Hari compared her full breasts to the freshly bloomed Lotus, Lakshmi cuts off one of them and offers as a flower to Shiva Linga. While she prepared to cut off the second breast, Shiva appeared and stopped her from offering, for he was immensely pleased by her devotion unto Him. Shiva deliberated on the fact that Lakshmi being Mother Earth herself, her breasts were the source of nourishment and long life of all living beings. Not wasting the act of fath, Shiva planted it on the earth and from there arose the Bilva tree. Shiva declared that the tree was Goddess Lakshmi herself and the trifoliate leaves shall ever be the one that pleases him the most among all the offerings. The interesting twist in the story was that Shiva himself narrates this to Parvathy, when she questioned him on why it was only the bilva patra that was not crushed under his dancing feet while all other flowers were. Graceful Shweta Venkatesh as Lakshmi, handsome Nishant Aravindakshan as Hari, energetic Somashekar Chudanath as Shiva enacted their roles very effectively. Pushya, Sindhu, Yashaswini and Suchita as the sakhis of Lakshmi danced very well. Apart from enacting the role of Parvathy, Kavyashree’s effort in directing Bharatanatyam dancers in Odissi style was appreciable. What really stole the show was an invocatory number to Goddess Saraswati by Nisha K, who was grace personified.

Bharatanatyam dancer Meghana Venkat performed an invocatory number, a keerthana and a javali before she concluded with an Ashtapadi. Set to Trishra Jumpa Tala and Naatai raga, obeisance was offered to Ganesha, Subramanya, Shiva, Shivakami and Chandikeshwara in the Panchamurthanjali. The Vasantha raga and Khanda Atta tala based “Natanam Aadinaar” was followed by a Kannada number “Sako ninna sneha sarasa vinyatako.” The anger of a Khandita Nayika towards Krishna was expressed through Jayadeva’s “Chandana charchita.” Abhinaya was Meghana Venkat’s forte which she exhibited to the appreciative audience.

Meghana Venkat
Disciples of Chitra Venugopal
Kathak Guru Chitra (Rao) Venugopal presented her disciples, Devika Vishnu, Chaitra P Y, Jhalak Srivastava, Prabhati Kisku, Surabhi Swaminath, Sumana S and Suraiya Parveen in the concluding segment of the festival. Two of the repertoire was choreographed by her and two were that of Guru Dr. Maya Rao. Beginning with an invocation to Ganesha through a poetry penned by Ibrahim Adil Sha of Bijapur and composed in Raag Malhar set to ek taal, the presentation proceeded with a composition of Maharaj Bindadin describing the playfulness of Radha and Krishna on the makeshift swing during the festival heralding the arrival of the Monsoon. Praband, composed by Ustd Altaf Hussein Khan in Kedar raag and teen taal was performed before they signed off with a Tarana in Raag Durga and teen taal.

One of the missions of SAI Nrityotsava is to provide opportunities for young artistes for a dance experience and this was utilized by the students of Kala Bharati, a cultural wing of the Bangalore centre of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.