21st Raindrops Dance Festival
- Vijay Shanker, Mumbai
e-mail: vijaydance@gmail.com
Photos: Gajanan Sagvekar

July 23, 2011

The two day 21st Raindrops Festival of Indian Classical Dance was organised by Sam Ved Society of Performing Arts at Mini Hall of Ravindra Natya Mandir auditorium. It is really creditable that in spite of the heavy rains, the audience was quite encouraging.

The Raindrops Festival is an annual feature started by accomplished Kathak exponent Uma Dogra as a mark of tribute to her mentor Pandit Durgalal and Guru Reba Vidyarthi and as an encouragement especially for young performers and this time the responsibility of the festival was shared by youngsters Indrayani Mukherjee and Suhani Singh.         

Arundhati Patwardhan

Srilakshmi Govardhanan

The first performer of the festival was Arundhati Patwardhan who is the daughter and disciple of renowned Bharatanatyam exponent Sucheta Chapekar. Arundhati executed the pure dance and abhinaya aspect with ease and mastery in numbers like the Kanakadasa composition "Krishna Nee Begane Baro" and in the Balamuralikrishna Thillana in Vrindavanasaranga ragam. Arundhati concluded the performance with a Meera Bhajan that exposed varied facets and episodes in the life of Lord Krishna.

Srilakshmi Govardhanan’s Kuchipudi was noteworthy for its elegance, precision and the natural flair for expressions. Having learnt Kuchipudi from teachers like Pasumarthy Rattiah Sharma, Vyjayanti Kashi and Manju Bhargavi, she has developed her own style that is attractive and impressive. While Lakshmi succeeded in portraying the aspect of both Shiva and Shakti in the Ardharishwara number, she was amazing in the Tarangam that incorporated the Poothana Moksham in a commendable manner. The portrayal of Poothana left a lasting impression on the spectators and Lakshmi deserves to be seen more often on the performing platform. 

Tall and slim, Shaswati Garai Ghosh is a powerful Odissi dancer who is blessed with all the qualities necessary for a fine Odissi dancer. In fact, her performance reminded me of the late Odissi dancer Protima Bedi. Shaswati’s performance was noteworthy for the typical Odissi elegance, accuracy and large expressive eyes which was evident in the numbers Shiva Parvati Sabda and Krishna Janma Katha that portrayed the dramatic and unique birth of Lord Krishna at midnight. Shaswati is the ardent disciple of renowned exponent Sharmila Biswas and has performed with her at various festivals in India and abroad.

Shaswati Garai Ghosh

Navia Natarajan

On the second and final day of the Raindrops Dance Festival, the evening commenced with an immaculate Bharatanatyam performance by Navia Natarajan in the Vazhuvoor tradition that symbolised purity and precision of movements creating a fine visual impact on the audience. In the elaborate Varnam "Swami Naan Undan…" the dancer established the relation between the heroine and the Lord, wherein the heroine represents the human soul as she is yearning to unite with the supreme being. Navia is indeed a bright star in the field of classical dance. She has established the Navia Dance Academy in US and is also a research scientist in microbiology.

The audience was startled to witness the excellent Kathak performance by American dancer Charlotte Moraga. Charlotte has been pursuing Kathak under the able guidance of Pandit Chitresh Das for more than two decades and is the senior instructor at Chhandam School of Kathak Dance in San Francisco. Charlotte demonstrated the different tala patterns in Tisram, Khanda and Misra and danced the pure dance sequences with precision and complete command. It was a treat to watch Charlotte performing the 'tarana' with "joie-de-vivre" and the interpretation of Govardhana Giridhari was powerful. Charlotte was supported by Pt Kalinath Misra on tabla and Seema Mehta on padant.

Charlotte Moraga

Sudha Mukhopadhyay

The last performer of the festival was Sudha Mukhopadhyay. Sudha's Odissi recital had the typical grace and charm. While Sudha did justice to the Pallavi, she was also comfortable in the Oriya number "pransangini.” Sudha is the disciple of celebrated Odissi exponent Madhavi Mudgal and performs regularly with her at various festivals. A wonderful festival indeed.