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A festival with a difference
- Vijay Shanker
Photos courtesy: Shambhavi Dance

March 7, 2020

The 9th edition of Dance Jathre was organised by Shambavi School of Dance with some support from local organisations and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India on 8th and 9th February at the Ravindra Kalakshetra auditorium in Bangalore.

Renowned Kuchipudi exponent Vyjayanti Kashi of Shambhavi School of Dance says, "Besides maintaining the festive atmosphere of the arts scenario, this is a rare opportunity for performers, both young and established to mingle and to interact with other performers which rarely happens, as each one of us normally work in our own limited sphere and are not really concerned about others. This time we have introduced the Nritya Shodha section wherein dancers and scholars can talk about their research in dance, which is quite interesting for everyone and is also a process of learning."

Organised once every two years, Dance Jathre is one of the most popular festivals held in the garden city of India and many dancers eagerly look forward to participate in it. Unlike earlier years, this time there was only one stall for the sale of books and other accessories related to dance. The dance competitions held in both the junior and senior section featured solo and group participation as well. It was interesting to observe here that some of the performers were really good.

Winners of the group dance competitions

Dance workshops were held for children and adults separately covering varied technical and other aspects of dance. Odissi exponent Bijayini Satpathy in the perspective of Body Fitness emphasised the need of different body exercises which is necessary not only to maintain health but also to improve your mobility and flexibility as a dancer. Many times, dance teachers start teaching the dance steps, without going through the warming up exercises, which is quite essential.

Cuttack based Odissi exponent Meera Das demonstrated the basic chauka position and as to how one can slowly move on to perform tribangis as well. Meera and her students demonstrated few typical pure dance movements which were followed by the participants. Kathak exponent Maneesha Sathe and her students demonstrated the first basic step that is taught to students in 16 beats, followed with a brief tukda (brief pure dance movement). Rama Vaidyanathan demonstrated varied movements in the Bharatanatyam style as to how a jathi can be formed with the usage of different hand and leg movements in rhythmic precision. Speaking on the usage of jewellery in Yakshagana, Mahabala Kerekodi explained about how the jewellery would change according to character represented.

Meera Das Odissi workshop

One of the most exciting workshops in the contemporary dance category was conducted by the vivacious dancer from Bangalore, Jothi Viknesh. His company is known as Afro Works - Expert Nomads, the music is based on African music and dance known as Djamboola. Starting with simple movements, Jothi excited the participants with rhythmic jerks and movements that was thrilling and free style too. He said that the animal instinct in you should come forward. Jothi has conducted several workshops in schools and for companies all over the country and dances with lot of involvement and enjoyment.

Demonstrating basic steps in Kuchipudi style, Vyjayanthi Kashi explained how the technique is different in Kuchipudi with the typical bounce and lilt. Vaibhav Arekar showed how expressions could change according to the emotions depicted. Minal Prabhu spoke about Sattivika abhinaya, Archana Kumar on Flamenco dance and Mysore Nagaraj demonstrated folk dance movements.

The evening performance section featured the Bharatanatyam recital by one of the leading male dancers of Bangalore, Sathyanarayana Raju, accompanied by Soundarya Srivatsa and team of talented dancers. They commenced the performance with a beautiful invocation "Gambheera Gananayaka" followed with piece-de-resistance of the evening, Tyagaraja keertana "Endaro Mahanubhavulu" featuring Lord Rama with the dramatic episodes of Ahalya, Shabari, Seetha Swayamvaram and Ravana. The performance was noteworthy for its elevating quality and fine technique.

Odissi exponent Meera Das from Cuttack presented Mangalacharan featuring the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath which was quite innovative. The number 'Varsha' along with rhythmic and melodious music depicting the onset of the monsoon was well performed by the dancers of her Gunjan Dance Company but at times some of the movements were repetitive.

Sathyanarayana Raju, Soundarya & group

Maneesha Sathe & group

Maneesha Sathe and dancers from Maneesha Nrityalaya, Pune, rendered an excellent Kathak performance. After the invocation to Lord Shiva, 'Niratata' Reflections was an innovative composition based on varied pure dance movements that was striking and precise. The dancers concluded with a Bindadin composition and the jugalbandi in teen taal revealing the technical command of the Kathak style. Prateeksha Kashi and dancers from Shambhavi School of Dance presented a brilliant Kuchipudi performance. Besides the usual numbers on Krishna, the highlight of the performance was the Marathi abhang on Lord Vitthala that enhanced the divine fervour of the performance. Incorporating theatrical dance, 'Shrimant Yogi' was a powerful and vibrant display of tussle between the Marathas and the Moghuls, performed by dancers from Sankhya Dance Company led by Vaibhav Arekar on the life of Shivaji Maharaj. Executed with sharp and dramatic movements, the fine team work and superb lighting by Sushant Jadhav, left a lasting impression on the audience.

In the Nritya Shodha section, Dwaritha Vishwanath explained varied dimensions of the Parakiya nayika, followed by an interesting lecture and demonstration of Angaharas in nritta and nritya, performed by Arun Sreenivasan. Shobha Sashikumar spoke about the treatment of abstract themes in classical dance, while Dr. B Manorama elaboarted about Kuravanji literature in Karnataka and Madhulika Srivatsav on how Padavarna can be reconstructed in thematic presentations. On the whole, it was an unusual and unique Dance Jathre.

Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.

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