Dance Discourse: Bond to Dance
- Probal Gupta, Bangalore
Pics: Arvind Padmanabh Shenoy

April 26, 2011

Ashish Khokar has been relentlessly trying to organize series of classical dance events since last year and post this event, an interactive session is held where the dancers interact with the rasikas moderated by Khokar himself. Hence the title "Dance Discourse." Curtsy to this gentleman for brilliantly organizing this session for the sake of dancers, the dance fraternity and the cause of classical dance world at large.
Release of Attendance

April 23, 2011 saw two senior established Bharatanatyam dance couples of Karnataka as a part of the Dance Discourse, along with young couple Hari and Chethana for Kathak. The evening commenced with Murali Mohan Kalva introducing the latest edition of Attendance published by Khokar. In a cultural event of this type, the usage of English as a medium of communication is important while introducing such a revered book like Attendance. Khokar's chaste speech in English coupled with his voice modulation and perfect intonation was a treat. Attendance was released by Chiranjiv Singh, President, Alliance Francaise, Bangalore. First copy was received by educationist-art patron Vimala Rangachar in presence of the guest of honor Dominique Causse, Consul General of France in South India.

The performance commenced with the Kirans, who performing together after a long span of three years, require zest. The Kriti propitiating Lord Shiva "Kapalini, Dayanidhi, Umapati" set to Raag Palini and Tisra gati adi tala was an apt commencement for the evening. The opening jati "Dhim dhim tat dhim" and the interspersing taut jatis like "taka dhim dhim", "ta ta ta kita taki tom" with beautiful geometric formations indicate the performers' assiduous training.

Hari and Chethana followed next with their aesthetic Kathak recital. Entering on to the proscenium in a momentum coupled with good quality recorded music, aggrandized the overall effect. However, the usage of edakka and chenda effect through drum pads in the beginning so non concomitant with the form from North India and the Muslim musical tone so incongruous for a choreographic piece based on Lord Shiva towards the finale, sounded different to the ears. The piece commenced with a "Shiva Pratah Smarana Stotram." Neat pirouettes maintaining the axis of the body, neat geometric patterns in a conscientious flow governing the stage at a greater tempo, intertwined with a tarana like structure amidst the work deserves praise. The choreography blended harmoniously amongst the dancers. The Ardhanarishwara roopa with Chethana as Parvati and Hari as Lord Shiva during the recitation of "Girijardha deham" was praiseworthy. Chethana's composite abhinaya and her eye in direct communication with the audience accentuated the effect. Her neat chakkars, perfect tatkars were overwhelming. Not the slightest overdo in her nritya and nritta aspect proved her mettle as a performer. What Hari needs to work upon is the internalizing of emotions and the subtlety of movements which now appears vapid. The piece concluded with a "Mahamrituyanjaya Mantra" with the dancers submitting themselves in the hands of the Almighty and their yearning to unite with the supreme soul deserves applause.
Chethana and Hari
Shridhar and Anuradha Shridhar

However, the best performance of the evening was by Shridhar and Anuradha Shridhar whom Ashish Khokar rightly calls "the perfect icon of Bharatanatyam." Commencing their recital with a Nrityanjali "tam that dhim ta dhim ta kita taka" set to Raag Arabhi in adi talam, the aficionados were mesmerized with the picture they portrayed epitomizing perfection on stage. Breaking the monotony of portraying the same God was a refreshing Krishna Devarnama set to Raag Hamsanandi in Khandachapu talam. Neat kudditas, taut teermanams, elegant permutation and combination of the adavus synchronizing harmoniously in perfect choreography, set this couple apart. What needs to be appreciated is the amiable relation they share as soul mates that even on stage they look like one. One enjoyed their subtlety in abhinaya while executing "Gopastree Pariveshtita" and "Govardhana Giri" with Shridhar as Krishna. Usage of chenda effect on drum pads to portray Vishnu (Krishna) rescuing Mother Earth as boar (Varaha Avatar), execution of the Vamana Avatar were brilliantly portrayed as a part of the sancharis by this duo. With Shridhar as Garuda traversing the proscenium in joy to be Vishnu's (Anuradha) vahana and Anuradha on his back traversing the Universe was a connoisseur's delight. Both Shridhar and Anuradha's body kinetics are always in a resolute control. The rasikas enjoyed their diligence in making the form delightful to watch.

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. 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. He writes for the Bangalore edition of The Hindu.