Samskriti Festival of classical dances
- Shalaka Deshpande

March 6, 2014

Samskriti festival has become an integral part of the Aurangabad classical dance patron’s calendar. In its 5th edition this year, it was held over a period of 2 days on the 15th and 16th of   February 2014. Senior Kuchipudi, Odissi, Bharatanatyam exponent and choreographer from the USA, Guru Sumathy Kaushal was the chief patron of the festival this year. The idea was to make the festival bigger and better as it completes its 5th year. A Kuchipudi workshop was conducted by Sumathy Kaushal and attended by students from different dance schools of Aurangabad who gained valuable guidance on the finer aspects of Kuchipudi from her. They later presented the same in ‘Prahlada Sabdam’ in the festival.

Suchismita Dutta

Prahlada Sabdam

The first day of the festival began with a scintillating Kathak performance by Suchismita Dutta from Kolkata. She displayed deft footwork which was captured perfectly by a specially placed mike on the floor. The second performance for the evening was Kuchipudi performed by all the dancers who took part in the workshop. Prahlada Sabdam on Lord Narasimha and his devotee Prahlad was effectively portrayed especially when the dancers depicted how Lord Narasimha claws open the chest of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. Bangalore based Bharatanatyam dancer Anjana Ramesh presented two beautiful items, Ganesha Koutvam, a composition in praise of lord Ganesha, followed by Thumak Chalat Ramachandra, a timeless composition by saint Tulsidas in raga Misra Kamas set to tisra nadai.

The first day concluded with Manipuri performed by Surajit Deb Burma from Tripura. Both his presentations were choreographed by the late Guru Th. Babu Singh.
Dashavatar taken from kavi Jayadeva’s Geeta Govindam was based on the Manipuri tandav style and was set to taal tanchap, chali and teen taal Dasha kush. His next dance was Duti Sambad also from Geeta Govindam based on taal tanchap in the lasya style.

The next evening’s proceedings commenced with a neat Kuchipudi recital by Gururaj N, disciple of Vyjayanthi Kashi from Bangalore. Both his pieces for the evening were choreographed by his guru. His first item Poorva Ranga Vidi in raga Revathy in talamalika was followed by Tandava Nritya Kati in raag Hamsadhwani also in talamalika. Ramayanam Sabdam was set to Mohana ragam, adi talam and he ended with Tarangam in ragamalika, talamalika.

Surajit Deb Burma

Gururaj N

Anu Sugathan

Ajay Shengde

Roopa Kiran

Anu Sugathan from Delhi gave an enchanting performance in the Mohiniattam style. Enthaho Vallabha composed by Irayimman Thampi set in talam chempata questions the lord as to why he is angry towards the nayika, what wrong has she done. This was followed by Shivachalli composed by Leela Omchery and choreographed by Guru Deepti Omchery Bhalla. This composition eulogizes lord Shiva, who dances to the rhythm of the mridangam, flute and veena. Odissi dancer Ajay Shengde from Aurangabad first presented the Arabhi Pallavi choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. He displayed elaborate eye movements, body postures and intricate footwork. His next item Moksha represented a spiritual culmination in which movements and poses merged to create new patterns and designs in time and space. Roopa Kiran from Hong Kong presented Mallari in Gambhiranattai followed by Shiva Stuti in the Bharatanatyam style.

The evening concluded with V Soumyasree and students from her Devmudra group performing ‘Three Earths,’ a dance theatre presentation. Written and composed by Ramdas Pawar, music composed by Kedar Deshmukh, Shivali Gaikwad and Ramdas Pawar, it is a striking piece which is based on a woman, a farmer and the mother earth. It is an expression of protest; it strikes at the power equation between man and woman, a shift in gender politics. How power loathes and exploits the weak from times immemorial.

The 2 day Samskriti festival was truly a national festival and gave the Aurangabad dance connoisseurs a chance to see most of the classical dance styles. Our best wishes to this venture by V Soumyasree to grow and blossom over the future years too.

Shalaka Deshpande is a teacher, anchor and dance enthusiast based in Aurangabad.