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Riveting performances at NCPA
- Vijay Shanker

July 4, 2022

During the lockdown, live performances were not held; hence digital presentations were dominating the performing arts scenario, with dancers presenting their presentations digitally, as that was the only outlet to satisfy the urge to perform. Dance being a performing art form, live performances are always the call of the day, as audience participation and response is really vital for a successful performance. During the lockdown, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai, organized performances, lecture-demonstrations and Zoom meetings too. Many dancers were exploring new ideas, innovations and experiments in varied styles, in order to reach out to a larger section of the audience, with a holistic perspective.

NCPA invited four dancers to exhibit their performance and the program titled 'Catalyst' was held at the Experimental Theatre on 12th May. The dancers featured were Gauri S. Tripathi and Pallavi Lele in the Kathak style, Nilesh Singha in Bharatanatyam style and Purbita Mukherjee in Manipuri style. It was interesting to watch each dancer trying to reach out in their respective styles with different thematic content that was both religious and secular in character, yet moving forward with new dimensions to choreography and execution.

Pallavi Lele
Pallavi Lele

The program commenced with the young and talented Kathak dancer Pallavi Lele. Pallavi is the daughter and disciple of accomplished Kathak dancer and mentor Bhavana Lele. Based on the musical rendering of Manoj M, Pallavi presented 'Shiva Tandava' which was visualised and choreographed during the lockdown, signifying the glory and power of Mahadeva as Nataraja, dancing the cosmic dance of creation, preservation and destruction. Pallavi is a charming dancer, completely involved and did her best as this was the first time that she got an opportunity to perform at the prestigious NCPA. During the interactive session with the audience, she revealed that she was quite excited and it was a dream come true experience for her.

Nilesh Singha & Purbita Chatterjee
Nilesh Singha & Purbita Mukherjee

The next performer of the evening was the dynamic Bharatanatyam dancer from Mumbai, Nilesh Singha, dancing for the first time with pretty Manipuri dancer Purbita Mukherjee. "Chuda Damaru" (Oneness Within), the dancers were facing opposite directions but moving together in a circular style, which was a fine start exposing both Vishnu and Shiva. While Purbita portrayed the concept of Vaishnavism in the Manipuri style, Nilesh exposed the varied manifestations and glory of Lord Shiva in the Bharatanatyam style, based on the composition and poetic rendering of Rabindranath Tagore. Sanskrit shloka "Tridhalam triguna karam" incorporated Shiva and "Shambho Mahadeva Sada Shiva, Ambuja Nayana Narayana" depicted both Shiva and Vishnu. It was enjoyable to watch both of them dancing together and for the first time was watching Bharatanatyam being performed along with Manipuri. Manipuri is soft and lyrical while Bharatanatyam is known for its vibrancy and sharp movements. The Bengali number "Shokhi bashi baje" interpreting Radha as she searches for Krishna and is mesmerised by his divine flute, was gracefully danced by Purbita. The duo intends to explore this subject for a more elaborate performance of forty minutes.

Gauri Sharma & group
Gauri Sharma & group

The brilliant Kathak dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi, Tarini and group of dancers, created a lasting impression with their vivacious and precise performance. 'Ashta Lakshmi' interpreted the eight different types of goddesses that represented prosperity, wealth, health and a peaceful life. The benevolent and the virile aspect of the universal mother for peace and protection, was dramatically and powerfully depicted by the team of five dancers. Gauri is the daughter and disciple of celebrated mentor Padma Sharma. The Rosary was another spectacle that was secular, incorporating philosophies of saint poets like Kabir, Bhule Shah and others as this dance group rose from the mundane to the higher level of consciousness and spirituality. It was indeed a 'catalyst' performance with perfect lighting and striking music. On the whole, it was entertainment with substance.

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

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