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- Sharmila Basu Thakur
Photos courtesy: OVM Kolkata

March 9, 2020

Indian classical dance is not only about rhythm, movement, expression and grammatical perfection. It has an immense capacity to influence a dancer's life through its rich heritage, amazing aesthetic flavour and vast philosophical perspective. There are very few dancers who can transcend the mere learning process and grammatical regime of classical dance and make it their way of life.

Sharmila Biswas, a brilliant Odissi dancer, choreographer and teacher possesses this rare quality. She presented her three students in a programme called 'Offerings' at Daga Nikunj recently. Open-air ambience, minimalistic yet apt stage décor and three well-trained dancers made the evening an enjoyable one. Sharmila tries to invent and reinvent her creations again and again following her guru's footsteps.

In order to pay back vidyarin, the debt one owes for learning, the learning has to be passed on and shared with the students. In paying back the debt, Sharmila paid homage to her Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, to her art of dance and to her beloved students through 'Offerings'. The three artistes of the evening were Monami Nandy, Rohini Banerjee and Krishnendu Saha. Through their solo and group presentation, all the three artistes proved their vigorous talim, technical perfection, immense energy and above all their absolute love for the art form. The most significant aspect of their presentation was their individualistic approach. In spite of being trained under the same guru, they have evolved their own style which is really praiseworthy.

Krishnendu Saha

Monami Nandy

Rohini Banerjee

The programme began with a ritualistic invocation to Jagannath, performed by all the members of OVM, Sharmila's institution, to set the mood of the evening. Krishnendu Saha, the first dancer of the evening, presented Ramastakam, which described the achievements of Rama, the incarnation of God Vishnu from his childhood till the battle of Lanka. The dancer had a chiselled physique, agile movements and vivid expression. His movements were bold and at the same time ornamented with feminine grace. Music was composed by Prafulla Kar. It was followed by Shiv-Parvati Shabda, an item inspired by the Shabda Nrutya of Western Orissa. The tandava and lasya complement each other, balance each other and harmonize into a complete whole. That was the theme of the item.

Dressed in bright pink, purple and blue combination, Monami Nandy did justice to the entire choreography with her supple bhangis and magical eye movement. The contrast between tandava and lasya came out nicely through her rendition. Based on Srikrishna Janma written by Jagannath Das, Krishna Janma Katha was presented by Rohini Banerjee. The speciality of this abhinaya piece from Oriya Bhagavat was the use of various traditional chanting styles of Orissa. Apart from technical skill, Rohini's presentation was marked by her vivacious energy and emotional involvement. It was nice to watch such a lively performance.

The evening came to an end with Evocation, performed by all the three dancers. Choreographed by Sharmila Biswas, 'Offerings' was earnest, honest and spirited.

Sharmila Basu Thakur is a journalist, trained classical dancer, dance critic, writer.

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