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Parampara Festival 2020
- Tapati Chowdurie

December 13, 2020

The year prior to Natya Tarangini's Silver Jubilee celebration was unique, memorable and one of its kind. Whoever could imagine that the tiny corona virus could create a global shutdown! So the 24th year of Natya Tarangini's Parampara series - a national festival of music and dance had to be held online in the weekends starting from the 30th of October till the 22nd of November. The pandemic situation induced the curator of the festival Kaushalya Reddy to delve deep into their archival material to bring to the world, gems they had collected over the years. Drs. Raja-Radha Reddy and Kaushalya Reddy's collaboration with United Nations India presented a unique fare to a global audience. Their aim to promote hope, harmony and solidarity was more than fulfilled.

The Reddys

Art lovers across the world saw the first family of Kuchipudi - the Reddys - perform. Finely choreographed Shiva Leela was their launching pad for their virtual presentation. Yamini Reddy and Bhavana Reddy played the role of introducing the senior couple. Shiva's multi-faceted roles were dramatized and danced to capture our imagination. Shiva is Swyambhu; he is Parama, Neelakantha, Mrityunjaya, Madanataka, Umadhipati, Kirataka, Tripurantaka, Nataraja and of course together with Parvati he is Ardhanariswara, signifying Purusha and Prakriti in one body consciousness, the ultimate reality. Adjectives don't do enough justice in describing the aesthetics of the piece.

The finale was 'Mahanattam,' an ode to the duo Nataraja and Parvati, whose dance is a symbol of the cosmic balance. A well trained group of young dancers blossomed with the fresh beauty of pure dance with Shiva and Parvati appearing at a raised part of the proscenium stage with a kind of benign indulgence to the beauteous buds opening up. Glimpses of both tandava and lasya styles were realistic, more so because it is an integral part of all creatures of the universe. Kaushalya Reddy displayed the finest choreographic work of Raja-Radha Reddy. Music composer N.S. Srinivasan and Dhoolipala Srinivas gave the production solid support. The appearance on stage of Raja Reddy, dressed in Kuchipudi attire, to give an introduction to facilitate understanding of the piece was practical. Yamini Reddy and Bhavana Reddy opened the dance piece and showcased intricate group formations with delightful pure dance.

Vyjayantimala Bali

From their past performances, we had the legendary Bharatanatyam dancer Vyjayantimala Bali, whose performance of child Andal rendered at an advanced age when most people are beset with aching bones, was phenomenal and the more recent Alarmel Valli.

Alarmel Valli

Valli presented Nrittalahari, an intricately structured composition in space and time, with each sequence highlighting a recurring swara woven into the tapestry of melody and rhythm. A poem from the anthology of Purananooru - an ancient Tamil anthology - was taken for displaying her mastery.

Kelucharan Mohapatra

Not to be missed was the great Kelucharan Mohapatra's prayer to the Lord of the universe. In the dance sequence, the maestro fell prostrate at the Lord's lotus feet in utter devotion to his ishta devata, desiring to draw his chariot to obtain a permanent place in his presence. Steeped in bhakti sringar, spectators drowned in the emotion of love when he performed "Kuru yadu nandana" from Geeta Govinda, bringing Radha alive in front of their eyes.

Sujata Mohapatra

Hamsadhwani Pallavi by his talented disciple Sujata Mohapatra was a delightful pure dance presentation.

Kumudini Lakhia's group

Kumudini Lakhia's "Atah Kim" meaning 'Where do we go from here' launched in 1982, was Kadamb's foray into what lay before the future practitioners of Kathak. To be in tune with contemporary life's ways, with the strong foundations stamped on dancers by their gurus, calls for sensitive handling. Atah Kim will always haunt thinking Kathakas. It indeed was a worthwhile inclusion in the festival of dance as true art always pushes barriers.

Neena Prasad

Mohiniattam exponent Dr. Neena Prasad won hearts with her carefully nurtured style. Nurtured carefully by Guru Sugandhi Prabhu, Neena Prasad has taken the form to new peaks. She was equally at ease enacting any character in the sanchari bhavas. The graceful swaying and circular movements of her body was perfectly rendered. One would never tire of watching the Stava Varnam by Neena.

Talking of graceful renditions, choreographer Late Lokendrajit Singh's - a lover of Natasankirtana - composition of Raasleela left a lasting impact on viewers. Maharaas signifying the concept of "Ek gopi ek Shyam" with the accompaniment of high pitched vocal rendition typical to Manipuri singing along with the drumming of the Manipuri pung and the plaintive note emanating from the pena, transported the viewer to a world of bliss and beauty, where you identified yourself with a gopi - the ultimate realization.

Lokendrajit Singh's group

The fare offered in Natya Tarangini's Parampara Festival was delectable. During these difficult times, Kaushalya Reddy basically opened their treasure trove to retrieve the very best and regale us in its beauty.

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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