Meera festival of dances
- Lalitha Venkat
Photos: Dasharatha R

October 25, 2014

Rahul Acharya, a prime disciple of Odissi guru Durga Charan Ranbir, and Bangalore based Gayatri Ranbir, his daughter and disciple put together the first edition of ‘Meera festival of dances’ at Seva Sadan in Bangalore on October 19, 2014. The dance styles presented were Odissi, Bharatanatyam and Kathak to recorded music.

Lekha Sunil

Gayatri Ranbir

P Praveen Kumar
The evening commenced with the Odissi performance by Bangalore based Nrutyayan headed by Gayatri Ranbir. The ultra brief Pushpanjali by Gayatri was followed by mangalacharan performed by Gayatri’s student Lekha Sunil clad in a nice white and red costume. An extract from Vishwanathashtakam and Ravana’s Shiva Tandava Stotram based on raag Pahari Darbari, ektaali saw a lukewarm start by Lekha, who got a bit more animated as the item progressed. Gayatri presented Pallavi in raag Suddha desi and tala triputa, choreographed by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir. She danced with joy but the music and vocal by Ramhari Das clearly overshadowed the dance. The abhinaya item about the romance of Radha and Krishna was set to a poem by medieval Vaishnavite poet Deenakrishna Das. The playful folksy music was composed by Dheeraj Kumar Mohapatra based on raag Jhinjhoti, ektaali. Gayatri was by now better warmed up to depict Radha narrating about the unparalleled charms of Krishna to her sakhi. The typical chauka and tribhanga were hardly seen and a lot more needs to be done to prove herself a worthy disciple of her illustrious father.
Bangalore based P Praveen Kumar presented a delightful half hour Bharatanatyam recital.  The devarnama “Jaganmohanane Krishna” by saint Purandaradasa was in ragamalika set to adi talam. There seemed to be a glow on his face, a twinkle in his eye and a leap in his firm footsteps as he eulogized on Krishna from his childhood to being the protector of the universe. A game of ball breaks the gopi’s pot and upsets the poor girl and when his mother chides Krishna for eating mud, how she is shocked to see the whole universe in her son’s mouth, melting her heart, were charmingly portrayed. The Vamana avatar was imaginatively depicted with king Bali seeing the vishwaroopam of lord Vishnu as Vamana transforms into a gigantic form. This was a change from the usual scene of Vamana putting his foot on king Bali’s head which most dancers do. The fleeting changes of expression of the various characters were greatly appreciated by the audience with applause.

The next item was a javali “Taaru maaru” by Moovalur Pattabhiramaiah in Nattakurunji in which the narration is about a drushta nayaka who outwardly accepts his follies but inwardly has no sense of remorse. Praveen brilliantly portrayed the nayaka trying to woo his sullen lover and how despite his attempts to romance her, she is cold and indifferent. All his tricks and entreaties to sweet talk her, his attempts to cajole her by describing her beauty fails totally. The hero’s expressions on being rebuffed and his shock at finding how his beloved has changed over the years and is now wise to his games were a treat to watch.

It was next Kathak dancer BP Sweekruth’s turn to dazzle the audience with his 3 items and 3 different changes of attire, all beautiful and pleasing to the eye. He commenced with a Ganesh vandana by Tulsidas “Gaayiye Ganapathi jaga vandana” in raag Mishra Maand, teen taal composed by Samanvitha Sharma who also lent her voice along with Ganesh Desai. The item ended with poor Ganesha drowning in the water after a ceremonial immersion! In Madhurashtakam of Vallabhacharya, Sweekruth showed the love and devotion for lord Krishna from an adorable child, the mother’s vatsalya bhava to an enchanting youth and the play of raas.  The recording with Pt Birju Maharaj’s singing was a real treat to the ears. The final item Teen Taal was a pure nritta piece and included thaat, tihai, tukda, paran and chakkars. This item also had music by Birju Maharaj and Sweekruth’s presentation was compact with nothing overdone. All items were choreographed by him.

BP Sweekruth

Nrutyayan ensemble

The seven dancers of Bhubaneswar based Nrutyayan trained by Guru Durga Charan Ranbir rounded off the evening’s program with their energetic performance. The first was Aditya Archana in praise of the sun god, who arises from the primordial waters riding a chariot drawn by 7 horses, and as the giver of light and life. Starting with surya namaskaram, the slow meditative pace gradually got more and more animated with energetic dancing in beautiful formations. Surya astride his horse chariot was artistically depicted. The final item Balagopalashtakam was a prayer by blind saint poet Bilwamangala who had a divine vision of the child Krishna while being endowed with divine eyes. In reverence, he composed eight verses praising the childhood pastimes of Krishna. Stories of Krishna stealing butter and lifting the Govardana mountain were part of the lively narration.                        

Lalitha Venkat is the content editor of