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A well deserved century
- G Ulaganathan

March 6, 2020

It was an important milestone for this young, dedicated Bharatanatyam dancer from Bangalore. Kavya Kasinathan presented her 100th solo performance at Seva Sadan on February 13 under the watchful eyes of her guru Mithun Shyam, an acclaimed dancer himself.

Kavya Kasinathan

She chose the complicated theme 'Sanatana Dharma' for this important performance and in the first piece described the elements of Sanatana Dharma, the principles of kaalam, panchabootam, rebirth and evolution of mankind through the Dashavataram of Lord Vishnu. Then she went on to elaborate the final goal to attain Moksha. In the next sequence, she gave a glimpse of the nature worship prevalent in ancient times. With brilliant bhavas and quick movements on, she presented the worship of Surya Deva, Vruksha Deva, Naga Deva, and Garuda. Various shlokas from Vedas were used to present this well choreographed number.

Coming down to the modern era, Kavya described the civilization of mankind wherein the occupation and skills of the person places him on the social hierarchy. The scene highlighted the four types of people in a society -Brahmana, who are knowledgeable and wise, the Kshatriyas who are rulers and soldiers, the Vaishyas who are merchants and traders, and finally the Shudras who are skilled labourers. With the evolvement of time, path to attain Moksha got divided. Of this, three main divisions were highlighted - Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism. The scene included selected verses from the Shiva Ashtakam Soundarya Lahari and an Annamacharya krithi (Shriman Narayana) to showcase the various sects.

Kavya presented a short padam which portrayed the intense hatred and confusion these divisions created in society. Selected verses from different stotrams of Shiva (Shiva Tandava Stotram), Devi (Mahishasuramardhini stotram) and Vishnu (Vishnu stotram), set to different thala gathis, were used to depict the confusion they created. The presentation ended with the realisation that all paths lead to the same ultimate goal of moksha and unity with the supreme, thus restoring peace within.

The musical ensemble comprised of Mithun Shyam who choreographed the entire show and conducted the nattuvangam, Karthik Hebbar's melodious singing and mridangam by Bhavani Shankar, Gopal playing veena and Vivek Krishna on flute.

A new star on the Kathak horizon
Tall and pretty Sonali Loomba is a young Kathak dancer to watch for. Hailing from Punjab, she grew up in Bangalore and is presently settled in the United States. An alumnus of St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore, Sonali has had the opportunity to train under Kathak duo Hari and Chethana which gave her multiple opportunities to pursue her dreams and goals as a dancer. She has extensively toured all over India and abroad for performances along with her gurus as a part of their ensemble.

Sonali Loomba

Sonali recently presented her solo performance at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan auditorium, Bangalore, to a select audience and displayed her deep commitment and knowledge. She started with a shloka on Nada Brahma in teen taal and went on to present the all-time favourite, Madhurashtakam, with amazing speed and excellent expressions. Her thumri which was a Shivanjali and Tarana revealed her versatality and confidence.

Being a Punjabi, who has grown up amidst the influence of Bollywood, she left no stone unturned to make her performance a visual delight. She had even brought a set designer from Mumbai film industry and watching her perform on stage, one was transported to the lavish dance sequences in the Hindi movies. But, she should be given credit for retaining the classical ethos, flavour and purity of Kathak, thanks to the watchful choreography of Chethana and Hari.

G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.

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