Utsav’s Unbound Beats of India 2022
- Manjari Sinha
Photos courtesy: Sangeeta Banerjee
April 11, 2022
Hosting their annual festival, ‘Unbound Beats of India- 2022’, Utsav Educational and Cultural Society and Ranjana Gauhar’s Odissi Dance Academy brought back the joy of attending live performances in the warm presence of fellow art lovers that the pandemic had robbed for more than two years. This was the 15th edition of their annual festival of young dancers showcasing different classical dance forms of India.
Shovana Narayan and Ranjana Gauhar
The Founder-President of Utsav, Ranjana Gauhar first spoke about the objective behind organizing this festival for young and talented artistes, before the festival was inaugurated with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the esteemed guests Shovana Narayan, Shashadhar Acharya, Rajeev Kumar (DDG ICCR) and Avinash Pasricha, the veteran photographer. The ‘Utsav Samman’ this year was bestowed upon renowned Kathak exponent and author Shovana Narayan for her contribution to Indian art and culture.
Sanya Chadha, a disciple of Ranjana Gauhar, set the pace of the festival with the invocation “Maanikya Veena”, a choreography in Odissi by Guru Mayadhar Raut with the salutation to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning. This invocatory Saraswathi Vandana was composed in raga Mohana and taal Ektali- triputa by Bankim Sethi. Next came a Pallavi in raga Bhairav, composed by Saroj Mohanti and choreographed by Ranjana Gauhar. Sanya has mastered the technique well, but for the missing chauk.
Shubham Acharya and Gunjan Joshi
The serenely beautiful duet in Seraikella Chhau titled ‘Naavik’ by Shubham Acharya and Gunjan Joshi was conceived and choreographed by their Guru Shashadhar Acharya. It was about the story of a boatman and his wife navigating troubled waters that created an allegorical interpretation of the metaphoric journey of life, sailing through the ‘Bhava-Sagar’! The well-trained dancers did full justice to the imaginative choreography of their Guru.
Kathak dancer Kartika Singh, disciple of Shovana Narayan, opened with Shiva Vandana and moved to the tayyari ang of the challenging Taal Pancham Sawari, of 15 beats time cycle with Tode, Tukde, Paran and Chakkardar Tihais. She concluded with the poignant tale of Draupadi’s humiliation and how Krishna comes to her rescue in ‘Draupadi Cheer Haran’, a choreography of Shovana Narayan with music by Pandit Jwala Prasad. This piece was significant for the present day situation too with a glimmer of hope.
The talented Bharatanatyam dancer Pavitra Bhat, a brilliant disciple of Guru Deepak Mazumdar, opened his superb Bharatanatyam recital with ‘Shiva Mallari’, a temple ritual that began with Ashta Dikpaala Pooja and the Pallaki Utsavam including many Nritya Sevas. This Mallari based on ragam Gambheeranatai and khanda triputa talam was interwoven with verses in praise of Lord Shiva as the Lord of Dance and the one with cosmic energy. The credit of choreography to the dancer himself spoke highly about his versatility proving him not just a chiseled dancer but a creative choreographer too.
Pavitra concluded his impressive presentation with Nandanaar Charitam, a famous Padam composed by poet Gopalakrishna Bharati about God’s mercy on his ardent devotee who pleads with Nandi, the bull, to let him have a glimpse of his Lord Nataraja. Composer’s bhakti merged with pure bhakti in the moving swaras of raga Thodi set to rupaka talam. Pavitra did full justice to the remarkable choreography by his Guru.
The festival reached its resounding summit with a group Kathak performance by Alaknanda Sanskriti, the disciples of Guru Alaknanda Dasgupta. Opening with “Aangikam bhuvanam yasya…” an ode to Shiva, the dancers portrayed Shiva, whose body movements covered the entire universe, whose speech was the literature of the entire cosmos, whose ornaments were the sun, moon and stars and who is seen as the pure and eternal source of energy. This was an original choreography of Guru Munnalal Shukla. A Tarana followed it in raga Darbari set to teentaal, which was composed and choreographed by Alaknanda herself.
It was a delight to watch the Gurus being invited on stage to felicitate each other’s disciples with Utsav Yuva Samman 2022, after their performances. Ranjana Gauhar thanked all the Gurus, the participating young dancers and expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and the India Habitat Centre, for their valuable support in organizing the 15th edition of Unbound Beats of India.
Manjari Sinha has an M.A. in Sanskrit and Music, and trained in vocal, tabla, sitar and Kathak dance. She has regular columns in national dailies as a music and dance critic.