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Kanak Nrithyolsav
- SK Venugopal

June 28, 2020

The third edition of 'Kanak Nrithyolsav' that happened on 14th of June 2020 was a remarkable event by all means. Dr. Sunanda Nair who is behind this event ever since it started a couple of years back has been doing it in Mumbai live in front of a distinguished gathering. However this time due to present Covid situation, she decided to do an online event as her 'Guru bhakti' did not allow her to take a break this year for the annual event envisaged to celebrate the life of her Guru Dr. Kanak Rele. As we all know, Dr. Kanak Rele, in spite of being a non-Keralite, has given her life to promote the beautiful dance form of Mohiniattam which originated from Kerala. She is the first PHD holder in Indian classical dance as also first Padma Bhushan awardee for her work in Mohiniattam. The style of Mohiniattam she developed in variance with but traditionally complying with the basic practices followed in Kerala during the 40's and 50's is known as 'Nalanda bani.' The body kinetics she introduced for this bani is unique and well appreciated by many dance lovers across the globe. Sunanda Nair is a renowned ambassador of the 'Nalanda bani' and through her efforts, the style has gained a lot of reputation. She has her schools in Mumbai, in the U.S and also in Guruvayur, Kerala.

Unlike many other teachers, Dr. Sunanda Nair has an expansive and liberal approach about understanding and appreciating Mohiniattam. She acknowledges the fact that besides what she is promoting, there are multiple styles of Mohiniattam being practiced by the dancers and each one has its unique beauty attached to the respective styles. Guru Kalyani Kuttiyamma, Kerala Kalamandalam, Cheruthuruthy, RLV College, Thripunithura, Kaladi Sreesankara University and many teachers from outside of these institutions, having learned privately from gurus of these different schools, have all contributed their might in promoting this dance form. In the bargain, multiple styles also came into being. Recognizing the basic principle of unity in diversity, it is ideal to have each style retain its uniqueness and offer the rasikas a variety of watching experience, by joyfully coexisting together as one Mohiniattam fraternity.

Meghana Muralidharan

Shalini Harikumar

Mini Pramod Menon

Kalamandalam Sangeetha Prasad

It is with this sentiment probably Dr. Sunanda decided to invite dancers from other banis to perform in Kanak Nrithyolsav. The event started with blessings by Dr. Kanak Rele by way of a small presentation of Hasya Rasa by her interpreting a sloka from Bharata's Natya Sastra.The first performer was young Meghana Muralidharan, a disciple of Dr. Sunanda Nair. She was a picture of grace and beautiful abhinaya, in presenting Jayadeva's ashtapadi in Ragamalika and adi talam. This was followed by a performance by Dr. Shalini Harikumar presenting a Swati Thirunal kriti. Head of the department, R.L.V.College, Thripunithura, she is a disciple of Kala Vijayan. After this beautiful performance, it was the turn of Dr. Mini Pramod Menon to enthral the viewers with her interpretation of the padam 'Ajitha Hare' from Kuchela Vritham. She is a disciple of Guru Kshemavathy and is an eminent teacher herself coaching many discerning students. The last performer was Kalamandalam Sangeetha Prasad, who presented Swathi Thirunal's padam 'Bhasurangi' in Saveri ragam. The screen presence of the artiste and the graceful movements with which she enacted the piece was truly impressive. In all, it was a grand show.

SK Venugopal is an accredited All India Radio artiste (Trivandrum). He has been associated with Mohiniattam for nearly 4 decades providing musical support as a singer and composer.

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