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Nritya Sangam Festival
- Tapati Chowdhurie
Photos courtesy Prasenjit Majumdar

May 10, 2022

The artistic director of Ghungroo Dance Company in Kolkata, Kathak exponent Madhumita Roy schooled in the Lucknow gharana, recently collaborated with Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre and launched Nritya Sangam Festival at Purbashree auditorium, EZCC. The highlight of the festival was a two day workshop by the Kathak exponents of Benaras gharana, Kamalini and Nalini Asthana. The whole effort was to widen the horizon and vision of dancers of Lucknow gharana Kathak. Madhumita Roy Misra was a disciple of Pt Ram Gopal Mishra of Jaipur gharana of Kathak before she switched over to Pt Vijay Shankar and later to Pt Birju Maharaj of Lucknow gharana. To her, culture has no boundaries. In her words, "I have organised this festival and workshop for the dance lovers and students who are keen to learn the different styles of Kathak." Dancers with vision and creativity seized the opportunity and more than 150 aspirants made a beeline for an exposure to the Benaras gharana of Kathak. Kamalini Asthana, who is the chairperson of Kathak Kendra, and Nalini Asthana were impressed with the receptive and eager Kathak learners of the city where thirst for knowledge had inspired the gurus of Benaras gharana to give their best.

Madhumita Roy
Madhumita Roy

Nritya Sangam Festival was dedicated to Pt Birju Maharaj who drew his ancestry from the Kalka-Bindadin gharana and the festival began with the song of Maharaj paying tribute to him, seeking blessings of the guru, performed by the students of academy.

Madhumita Roy Misra, a high calibre performer, captured the imagination of the audience with her balance and command over taal and laya with great confidence. She started with a bandish "Laage more thumaka palangana" in vilambit teentaal, in sixteen beats. It depicted Radha's preparations of her inner self to meet her beloved through the metaphor of bedecking and bejeweling her physical body. Roy's display of all the Kathak nuances acquired in her long journey in the field of the technical aspects of her genre - thaat, amad, upaj ki tihai and gat nikas blending with the abhinaya was stunning. Madhumita's internalization of meditation through tatkar spilled over the audience too. After performing the bandish, Madhumita presented drut teentaal. Reverting to nritta, she performed different Jaati parans, different varieties of parmelu (Tao thunga) and executed various tihais in fast tempo. The bols were executed with perfection, bringing out its intrinsic beauty along with graceful movements. In abhinaya she presented a Thumri written by Pt Narayan Prasad depicting the chhed chhad of Radha - Krishna. Madhumita rendered it with complete involvement.

Ghungroo Dance Company
Ghungroo Dance Company

An added attraction of the festival was two choreographic works of Madhumita performed by the senior students of the academy. This was a kind of introduction of the next generation Kathakas. The young and upcoming generation of Kathakas showed great potential in the choreography of 'Anuranan' and 'Niratata Dhang'. The two pieces spoke volumes of the kind of talim and riyaz needed to graduate into performers on any proscenium stage. Anuranan was an experimental item based on Dhrupad and the bols of Kathak. It was a much researched presentation performed aesthetically by Sriyanka Mali, Prasenjit Majumdar, Manab Parai, Indira Chatterjee, Sohini Pyne, Anirban Pramanik, Sonali Sheth, Susmita Banerjee and Abhishikta Mukherjee. The blending of slow tempo of Dhrupad and the bols of Kathak was much applauded.

In the second choreography reflecting the traditional composition of Pt Bindadin Maharaj, 'Niratata Dhang' is a lakshana geet of Kathak, which Madhumita Roy revisited with Kathak as it is practiced and performed today. The song professes poetically, through the imagery of Radha-Krishna epitomizing the essence of Kathak. Its characteristics and movements and literary concepts were aesthetically designed and presented with contemporary sensibilities. The galaxy of artistes who accompanied the dancers were Biswajit Paul and Subir Thakur on tabla, Chandrachur Bhattacharya on sitar and Subhashish Bhattacharya gave vocal support.

Tapati Chowdurie
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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