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Nalanda's Online Nrityotsava
- Vijay Shanker
e-mail: vijaydance@gmail.com

January 27, 2021

Nalanda's much awaited Online Nrityotsava 2021 commenced on 15th January with the befitting recitation of Sanskrit shloka from Natyasastra, "Yoyam svabhavo lokasya, sukhadukha samanvitah, songadhyabhinayopeto natyamityabhidhiyate" - When human nature with its joys and sorrows is depicted by means of representation through gestures and the like (i.e. words, costumes, movements of the body and the emotional states) it is called drama (which includes dancing).

The welcome address was delivered by none other than the elegant founder-director Dr. Kanak Rele stating, "This year we were rather skeptical as to whether to organize our annual festival or not. Over the years we have been receiving amazing response from youngsters, so despite the pandemic we decided not to disappoint young dancers. Hence, this festival continues once again as it has been since years. For the first time, we are organizing the Nrityotsava 'Online' Festival and continue to select promising dancers of calibre from India and abroad."

The first day of the festival and the first dancer to make a fine start was Lekha Prasad, a disciple of Priya Murle who follows the 'bani' of the accomplished Bharatanatyam Guru Sudharani Raghupathy, which marks clarity of movements, 'angashuddhi' which predominated the brief performance with the Tanjore Quartet composition, the Varnam "Sakhiye indha velayil" wherein the heroine pleads with her sakhi to send a message to her lord as she can't bear the pangs of separation. If Lekha continues to dance with the same amount of zeal and passion, she can definitely aspire to be among the main rank of dancers.


Krishnendu Saha

Lekha Prasad

Krishnendu Saha from Udaipur presented an elegant Odissi performance with typical characteristic movements in the Kirvani Pallavi and in the Oriya composition "Nachante rangge Shrihari" that depicted the ananda tandava nritya of Lord Krishna. Krishnendu is a disciple of Sharmila Biswas and it was a pleasure to watch him dance to the choreography of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and Sharmila Biswas for music by Pt. Bhubaneswar Mishra.

Debjit Sarkar, disciple of Alokparna Guha, presented the qualities of Jaipur and Lucknow Gharana in the Kathak style, taal dhamar in 14 beats which was precise and pleasing. After the invocatory "Damru baje" in praise of Lord Shiva, Debjit performed "Jaya Madana Murari" which was partially pleasing and the performance did not click due to the improper musical quality.

Nalanda's Masters student Vaishnavi Hazari's sparkling Bharatanatyam was noteworthy due to the seamless execution of Ninda Stuti "Yedukittanai modidan" and the Shivaranjini Thillana, a composition by Santhanam Sethuraman. Slim and trim Vaishnavi created a lasting spell due to the vivacious quality of her performance.


Vaishnavi Hazari

Vaishali Varma

The second day of the festival started with a welcome note by the senior most disciple of Dr. Kanak Rele, the accomplished Bharatanatyam exponent Deepak Mazumdar, Trustee, Nalanda who applauded the young talent being presented in the festival and spoke highly of the much coveted Nalanda Nritya Nipuna Award which is announced on the pure talent showcased by the dancers which further adds much value to the recognition of the young artistes on their journey ahead as a professional performer. The performances commenced with Vaishali Varma, currently pursuing Masters at Nalanda in Bharatanatyam, who performed Todaya Mangalam "Govinda Damodara" followed by the Varnam featuring Devayani, the wife of Lord Kartikeya. Vaishali's performance was pleasing for its precise execution of rhythmic pattern and innate expressions.

Vaidehi Kulkarni presented a striking Kuchipudi recital. A disciple of Guru Vempati Chinna Satayam and Manju Bhargavee, she performed "Marakata" which concluded with the rhythmic display of intricate footwork on the rim of the brass plate.Talented Odissi dancer Vinod. K. Bachan is a disciple of Guru Ranjana Gauhar of Utsav Dance Academy from New Delhi. Vinod performed Shankarabharanam Pallavi with accurate display of varied rhythmic movements that started with slow tempo and slowly reached the pinnacle of speed, which is the highlight of this pure dance presentation. Vinod also performed the ashtapadi "Yahi Madhava Yahi Keshava" featuring the betrayed khandita nayika. Vinod has performed for several festivals and one could definitely expect a better performance.

Nayana Prakash is a Master's disciple of Dr. Kanak Rele style of elegant Mohiniattam. She danced the Arabhi Ganapati, ashtapadi and Jeeva that symbolises the union of jeevathma (human soul) and paramathma (divine soul). If Nayana continues to perform with the same amount of devotion, she can definitely rise to become a top performer.


Nayana Prakash

Meenakshi Venkatraman

The third and final day began with a warm welcome address stating how this year there has surely been a distance of physical proximity in Nrityotsava but surely not dimming the light on the zest of Nalanda to encourage the youth in dance, by Dr. Uma Rele, Principal, Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, the college permanently affiliated to Mumbai University with degrees up to PhD in Performing Arts. The first artiste of the day was Meenakshi Venkatraman of Singapore, disciple of Gayatri Sriram and Minal Prabhu. Her Bharatanatyam performance was noteworthy for its unusual choreography and stylized movements.

The next performer Anitha CN's Mohiniattam performance was partially pleasing and she needs to work on the aesthetic aspect of her performance. Third was Odissi by Attrayee Choudhary, a disciple of Shubada Varadkar. Her performance could not click due to the loud thumping of her feet and poor lighting quality of the program. The last dancer of the festival was Nalanda's lively Soumya Shrivastava of Chandigarh. She performed Jhap Taal in 10 beats accurately and in the expressional number "Shyam bina mohe kachu nahi bhaye" was able to portray the plight of Radha in a graceful manner.


Soumya Shrivastava

The dancers were artistically introduced for all the three days by Vaidehi Rele-Lal, a young accomplished Bharatanatyam artiste from Nalanda. The highly coveted Nritya Nipuna title winners are Lekha Prasad, Krishnendu Saha, Vaishnavi Hazari, Vaishali Varma, Nayana Prakash, Meenakshi Venkatraman and Soumya Shrivastava.


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


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