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Geeva Arts Festival
- Tapati Chowdurie

July 15, 2020

Geeva Arts Festival is committed to bringing Indian classical music and dance to the community of Louisville, KY, and its vicinity. Established in 2012, Guru Vandana Academy that has become an integral part of the Indian classical dance and music scene of North America, annually presents a three-day celebration. This year due to Covid 19 epidemic, the celebrations from 26th to 28th June went online. Offering of Thyagaraja Aradhana by Pusthakam Ramaa's Sangeetha Sambhrama was the mainstay of the festival. Most of the lyrics sung, with a few exceptions, were by Thyagaraja himself. The Aradhana started with a song on Sri Ganapathy by Purandara Dasa. Jagadanandakaraka in ragam Nattai and adi talam was sung sonorously. Saadinchane and Endaro Mahanubhavulu created a proper mood for the reverential aradhana of the saint poet.

Jayaram Kikkeri

Dr. Sunanda Nair

Flautist Jayaram Kikkeri started his kutcheri in a traditional approach by commencing with a Thyagaraja composition - following all the four segments sthayi, arohi, avarohi, and sanchari - using the methodology of assembling the notes and swaras, which is the general practice. He developed it stage by stage in a tasteful manner using the various laya patterns after which he played other ragas commendably. Other performances featured renowned performers, talented young artistes, and younger students of dance and music. The festival honoured Dr. Sunanda Nair, an exponent of Bharatanatyam and Mohiniattam, with the Geeva Lifetime Achievement Award. A disciple of Dr. Kanak Rele, she is a name to reckon with in the field of Mohiniattam.

Madhulita Mohapatra of Bangalore regaled the audience with her beautiful renditions of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan style of Odissi. Her signature number - obeisance to Lord Jagannath - with perfect stances struck an instant rapport with her audience. She sailed through with invoking the energy of Devi Durga- Mother Divine- reliving her many activities in her sculptural stances. Jana Sammohini Pallavi was Madhulita Mohapatra's contribution to the ever increasing number of Pallavis in the Odissi dance repertoire. Shoonya Swarupa dealing with the concept of the Almighty who is everywhere, but seems to elude the seeker - choreographed by her mentor Aruna Mohanty - had a fair amount of nritta and abhinaya. Not to be left out were the sculptural poses, full of the beauty of their inherent rasas. She commended herself fittingly as an ambassador of the artistic sensibilities of Odisha.

Madhulita Mohapatra

Ariaki Dandavate

New Jersey based Kathak dancer Ariaki Dandavate, a student of Archana Joglekar, did a Ganesh Vandana and went on to perform a Tarana to a dance composition of Pt. Birju Maharaj followed by a composition of Lata Mangeskar, where she enacted the role of a khandita nayika. She seems to have learnt the nritta of Kathak well under her guru, however to perform for an audience for a virtual presentation, the music needs to be good quality recorded music.

Nannu Brovu Lalitha, a video production, was a prayer to Goddess Lalithambika amidst nature. Lalitha or Durga or just Devi, call her by any name, is a wish fulfilling tree - kalpataru - who answers prayers and opens her bounty to the seeker. This piece was in honour of Lalitha Radhakrishnan - Akila Iyer's mother - whose change of fortune in her girlhood days subjected her to trials and tribulations beyond her control. She had to travel with her younger siblings to cross a raging river to reach the village of Kalvai, the incident indelibly etched in her mind forever. Her fears notwithstanding, she was an achiever well versed in veena and violin. The rituals of puja in the natural surroundings evoked veneration. It aroused bhakti rasa. The soft beauty of Bharatanatyam was experienced through the unhurried movements to a Carnatic composition of Shyama Sashtri, conceptualised and choreographed by Akila Iyer, exhibiting her aesthetic sensibilities.

Nannu Brovu Lalitha

Pusthakam Ramaa

Music arrangement was good as were the group dances, considering the fact that not all the performers in the group were accomplished dancers. The music team consisted of vocalists Pusthakam Ramaa, Deepthi Srinath, Harini Sridhar, mridangist Janardhan Rao, flautist Jayaram Kikkeri, violinist Mattur Srinidhi, and DV Prasanna Kumar on kanjira and morsing.

Tapati Chowdurie trained under Guru Gopinath in Madras and was briefly with International Centre for Kathakali in New Delhi. Presently, she is a freelance writer on the performing arts.

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