Yog Vasantah presented by the Indian Revival Group
- Manjari Sinha
Photos courtesy: IRG
April 16, 2022
The Indian Revival Group (IRG) founded by the iconic Late Yog Sunder Desai way back in 1948 has been continuously working on their creative endeavours ever since. Presently continuing under the stewardship of his versatile daughter Papiha Desai, the IRG is dedicated to the cause of furthering the rich multicultural heritage, mythology, philosophy and glory of India. 'Yog Vasantah', their latest show was presented on March 31 at the capital's Triveni auditorium to celebrate the spring season through the myriad colours of diverse dance forms of India.
Conceptualised and choreographed by Papiha Desai and Shashidharan Nair, the new production saluted India for completing 75 glorious years as an Independent entity while portraying the vibrant depiction of Vasanta or Spring season with diverse dance styles like Rabindra Nritya with songs written and composed in raga Vasant by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Odissi, Manipuri, Seraikella Chhau, Kathak, Chaiti and Hori of Braj, Phag of Harayana and Phagua of Bhojpur and Purvanchal. The diversity in the culture, traditions and heritage of India is the quintessential element that separates her from other civilizations in the world. While different in so many ways, her culture wears the same soul deep within. Yog Vasantah made an attempt to acknowledge this diversity by juxtaposing its ability to bloom every time against all odds just like the season of spring which brings with it the promise of life, sprouting and blossoming yet again.
Opening with the Bangla flavour of Rabindra Sangeet and Rabindra Nritya, the vibrant group of male dancers in the Vaasanti yellow attire and the female counterparts in the red border Bengali saris singing and dancing to "Ore bhai phagun logechhe bone bone..." created the ambience of the spring season from the very beginning. The Odissi dance next, with one dancer dressed as Krishna and four as Gopis danced to a Pallavi in Odia Basant, a melodious raga parallel to Adi Vasant. It was thoughtful to start with the Dhyan Shloka of the raga which matched its abstract melodic flavour.
The Indian New Year starts with the month of Chaitra which is juxtaposed to Phagun, hence welcoming the Hindu Nav Varsha, came the Chaiti, "Chait maas boleli koyalia ho Rama…" followed by the traditional bandish of Hindustani raag Vasant, "Phagva Brij dekhan ko chali ri..", in Kathak, which should have actually come before the Chaiti, because Chaitra comes after the year ending month of Phagun. The beautiful Basant Raas in Manipuri dance style preceded by a solo dance by the charming Krishna in pitambar, the yellow attire, was fascinating. The Gopis in red coloured lehengas and Radha in green dancing together with the Pitambar Dhari Krishna was simply mesmerising. This dance piece also had vaachik abhinaya. 'Phool aur Vasant' was a Seraikella Chhau duet with Chhau masks and authentic Chhau dhol (drum) playing to the shehnai nagma in raga Shahana Bahaar. Opening slowly like an alaap and then catching to the progressive rhythm of the Chhau dhol was a rare treat.
The abundance of Haryanavi Phag, Braj ki Hori with "Biraj men Hori khelen Girdhari" and the Bhojpuri Phagua concluded with a serenely happy Baul gaan where all the artistes join dancing in a circle. Participants were also from the groups of Shashadhar Acharya, Madhumita Raut, Kamaldeep Panda and the Manipuri guru, who were all felicitated in the end.
The colourful collage of all the participants and Gurus, the vibrant music and dance brought out the sprightliness of the Vasanta Ritu conceived as 'Yog Vasantah' by Papiha Desai and Shashidharan Nair, reached the climax and left the audiences enthralled in a festively emotional high!
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.