Evenings of expressions
- Vinu Vasudevan
July 4, 2022
Nrityodaya Charitable Trust, an organization engaged in promotion of classical art forms, conducted their sixth edition of the three day dance festival 'Nrityolsavam 2022' at Medical College Auditorium, SSG Hospital, Vadodara on the 17th, 18th & 19th June. This festival, supported by Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, is conducted bi-annually, curated by Dr. Ayswaria Wariar. This year, Nrityolsavam 2022 dedicated to Covid 19 warriors was conducted by Nrityodaya in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Baroda, an organisation in the forefront during the pandemic in meting out relief work to the affected in Vadodara.
In addition to the six styles of classical dance forms showcased at the event by prominent artistes and their teams, this year the festival felicitated the doctors, health workers and police personnel who worked tirelessly during the pandemic. Mohiniattam, Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri and Kathakali were the art forms performed during the course of the three day event. The theme for this year's artistic endeavours was 'Parampara' - the flow of tradition. Keeping with the theme, all performances were presented by the seasoned artistes accompanied by either their disciples or young dancers. A senior artiste such as a guru and his/her disciples jointly performing on the stage is definitely heartening to see, a sure sign of the journey of art or flow of tradition continuing.
Senior disciples of Dr.Ayswaria Wariar, Manimaran Ilangovan, Wincy Fernandez, Manjima P and Krushika Garg
Kalamandalam Adithyan performs the character of Bheema
The festival was flagged off with a short, well-choreographed and executed Bharatanatyam performance in praise of Goddess Saraswathi in Amrithavarshini raagam by Manimaran Ilangovan, joined by Wincy Fernandez, Manjima P and Krushika Garg, upcoming dancers and senior disciples of Dr. Ayswaria Wariar. Soon after, Kalamandalam Adithyan performed Kathakali. Adithyan presented an energetic and brisk padam, Shouryagunam from the Kathakali play Kalyanasougandhikam. He looked his part and was technically perfect on the stage. Some of the special kalasams (pure dance to conclude a padam) which he performed were beautiful and rhythmically poised. The day's performances concluded with a Bharatanatyam presentation by the students of Bijoy Anand Shivram, JG College of Performing Arts, Ahmedabad. Their half an hour presentation included Pushpanjali, Thodaya Mangalam, Keerthanam, and Thillana - among them, the Keerthanam which was a composition of Late Rukmimi Devi Arundale stood out differently in its aesthetic and visual imagery.
Disciples of Bijoy Anand Shivram
The second day's performances opened with a solo piece by Wincy Fernandez in praise of Lord Ganesha. The young dancer showed much promise, as her Guru Ayswaria Wariar proudly watched and applauded. The evening settled into the graceful and musical Manipuri performance by Latasana Devi and disciples from NCPA Nritya Parichay, Mumbai. Their presentation was divided into two parts. In the first one she performed a Siva Stuthi in which the dancer invokes Lord Siva. The songs were in Sanskrit and Manipuri. The second one was Nupi Pala in which she narrates the love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Day two also had performances by the young students of Nrityodaya School of Dance. The young dancers matched their steps and expressions to the well selected compositions, to the delight of all rasikas. The concluding performance piece for the evening 'Samarpan' was a highly emotional and poetic Nritya Naatika directed by Dr. Lata Surendra (Bharatanatyam) accompanied in performance by Dr.Sunil Sunkara and Aditya Garud (Kathak). Lata Surendra imbibed the role of Radha besieged by her unconditional love for Krishna, Sunil Sunkara and Aditya Garud enacted the dual aspects of Lord Krishna, Radha's Madhav in Vrindavan and the ruler of Dwaraka, Govinda Damodara. The choreography was well balanced with both nritta and abhinaya. The artistes received a standing ovation which was a fitting finale to the second day of the festival.
Lata Surendra and Sunil Sunkara
Ayswaria Wariar's Mohiniattam recital was the opening performance on the third and final evening. Ayswaria with her expressive eye movements, graceful abhinaya, complemented with equally balanced nritta, enthralled the packed audience. Niram was the main piece she performed. It narrates Kalam ezhuthu paattu, a ritualistic form which is popular in Kerala's Devi temples. This involves the using of colors to draw the picture of Goddesses. Describing the various attributes of the Goddess, slowly and steadily, the narrative of Niram develops into the story of Daarikavadhom and later the birth of Kaali from the third eye of Lord Shiva. The other compositions she performed were Mukhachalam and Panthaattam; both were group presentations by Dr. Wariar and her disciples. Niram and Mukhachalam are compositions of Kavalam Narayana Panicker and Panthaattam by Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon. All three compositions were choreographed by Ayswaria Wariar. Her ingenuity was seen in her foot tapping, rhythmic embellishments and sancharis of Panthaattam which had the audience sit on an edge following the various moves of the game of ball or panth being depicted onstage.
Dr. Vasanth Kiran and his disciples presented a breathtaking show of Kuchipudi to give quality culmination to the festival. Kuchipudi Salaam, Devi Krithi and Thillana were the three compositions his team performed. Chathurvidha Abhinaya was the highlight of the first item, in which nritya, natya and nritta were all included. It was a tribute to Abu Hassan Tanisha who had gifted acres of land to the Kuchipudi village. The next one was a Devi Kriti in which the various aspects of the beauty of Goddess Chamundi and her killing of Mahishasura were beautifully depicted. The Kuchipudi recital concluded with a Thillana in Maand raag, which depicted the Raasakrida of Lord Krishna. The mastery of the artiste over his art form is evident considering that both Kuchipudi Salaam and Thillana were not just choreographed, but also musically composed by Dr. Vasant Kiran.
Ayswaria Wariar with disciples Manimaran Ilangovan, Wincy Fernandez, Manjima P
Vasant Kiran and disciples Athira Sajeev and Sandra JS
The audience present in large numbers on all three days was definitely spellbound by the top grade performances of the multi-talented artistes. The Rasikas of Vadodara, which has a great tradition of motivating and encouraging art and artistes once again proved that this city is ready to accept and acknowledge good quality art. Dr. Ayswaria Wariar, an established Mohiniattam dancer, teacher and academician, has by charting a wonderful Parampara or tradition of Nrityolsavam 2022 in honor of Covid 19 warriors, amalgamated both cause and celebration!
Vinu Vasudevan is a freelance journalist, art critic and a documentary maker. He has worked in a number of television channels between 1996 to 2013. Presently he is working as the Faculty of Journalism in Kerala Kalamandalam Deemed University for Art and Culture for their Post Graduate programs. He is also a regular writer in 'The Hindu', 'The India Art Review' and leading Malayalam publications.