Sanskriti Festival and Raindrops Festival
- Vijay Shanker
September 2, 2022
Sarfojiraje Bhosale B.N.T & R Centre presented the Triveni Sastriya Nritya Samaroha series with Sanskriti Mahotsav at Mini PL Deshpande auditorium in Mumbai on 16th July. The festival featured different dance styles and dancers were Mandeera Tracy Chaudhari (Bharatanatyam), Priyadarshini Ghosh (Mohiniattam), Anusua Roy (Manipuri), Sunila Potdar (Kathak) and Bijal Haria (Kuchipudi). The highlight of the program was shastra, sampradaya and the innovations concerning technique of varied styles.
Mandeera, a senior disciple of Dr. Sandhya Purecha, could not perform but instead read a research paper of Nandikesvara's Bharatarnava incorporating the concept of nartana or pure dance, pertaining to the technique of varied hastas, sthanakas, charis, angaharas, etc. The first performer of the evening was Priyadarshini Ghosh from Kolkata. She is an accomplished Mohiniattam exponent and choreographer, who has completed a senior fellowship from Ministry of Culture, Government of India and is the joint director of the Natyanova repertory. After the brief invocatory Ganapatiye, Priyadarshini interpreted the popular astapadi "Sakhi he Keshi" wherein the heroine talks to her friend about her plight due to the absence of Krishna. This was executed with subtle expressions and sancharis. It was a brief but elegant performance. Each dancer was allotted limited time due to time restrictions.
Mumbai based Manipuri dancer Anasua Roy, elegantly attired, performed an expressional number on Madana in which Radha asks Madana, 'Why are you considered the fire of love and not Shiva?' This was performed with the typical soft footwork and subtle expressions concerning the emotional state of Radha. Anasua is the disciple of the celebrated mentor Darshana Jhaveri and has several performances to her credit.
Dombivali based Kathak exponent Sunila Potdar created a lasting impression with her vivacious performance. She commenced her performance with Shri Ram Vandana, performed in 9 matras and portrayed "Jay Bhagavathi" with complete involvement, revealing the virile and the benevolent aspect of the goddess. Sunila performed with ease and rhythmic accuracy, winning applause from the audience.
The last performer of the evening was the charismatic Kuchipudi exponent from Ahmedabad, Bijal Haria. Bijal is the disciple of Guru Smita Shastri and has also been seeking guidance from Kuchipudi maestro Raja Reddy, hence one could see some changes in the style of presentation. Bijal performed the popular Balagopala Tarangam in ragam Mohana and taal misram. While dancing in praise of Krishna, Bijal executed some rhythmic patterns on the rim of the brass plate and what was most exciting was that she was jumping in and out of the brass plate without disturbing the rhythmic harmony of the number, which was praiseworthy and quite thrilling for the audience too.
On the whole it was an interesting program of shastra, sampradaya, sanskaar and sanskriti.
The much awaited classical dance festival, particularly for young dancers, known as Raindrops Festival was held at Nalanda's Kanak Sabha, Mumbai, on 22nd and 23rd July. Organised by Kathak exponent Uma Dogra and Sam Ved Society for Performing Arts, this festival is one of its kind, as it's normally organised in the monsoon season, which is supposed to be the slack season as far as performing arts are concerned, but Sam Ved has always been an exception. Ten dancers hailing from various parts of the country performed five distinct classical dance styles of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Kathak and Odissi, but strangely not a single male classical dancer was invited to perform.
Uma Dogra is a pioneer in her own right, as far as organizing festivals for young dancers are concerned. There are a lot of young talented dancers in the country but the platforms are few and far between, hence they eagerly wait to perform for the Raindrops Festival. When a particular performer renders an outstanding performance, Uma is the first in the audience to give the artiste a standing ovation, the best tribute an artiste can aspire for. Most of the dancers performed quite well but Reddi Lakshmi's performance was the most stunning and the duet performers were a delight.
The dancers performing on the first day were Ruchi Krishna for Kuchipudi, Dimple Nair for Mohiniattam, Varsha Dasgupta for Kathak and Bharatanatyam duet by Harshini T and Meera Shree Dandapani. Dr. Dimple Nair is one of the senior most disciples of Dr Kanak Rele. Commencing with the traditional invocatory number "Ganapatiye", Dimple proceeded to perform the piece-de-resistance of the evening, 'Amba' incorporating the story on how her life was shattered due to King Shalva and Bhisma and how she takes revenge after becoming the third gender 'Shikandi'. Dimple's powerful mukhaja and netra abhinaya made her performance elevating, depicting the intense suffering and pathos of Amba. Dimple received fine orchestral support for soulful singing by Kalamandalam Gireeshan, nattuvangam by Kalamandalam Goapalakrishnan, Dakshanamurthy for mridangam, Shekar Tanjorkar for violin and Nambisan for edakka. Dimple is the founder director of IAID in Doha, Qatar.
Ruchi hails from Bhilai and started learning Kuchipudi from Guru Rateesh Babu from the tender age of 6. Ruchi commenced with an Annamacharya Keertana "Narayana" portraying the Narasimha avatar of Lord Vishnu destroying the arrogant King Hiranyakashipu, and the innocent Prahlada. Ruchi dances with complete control over movements and fine expressions, and also performed "Shiva Shiva Bhava Sharanam" incorporating the glory and magnificence of Lord Shiva.
Meera S. Dandapani & Harshini T
Varsha Dasgupta is New Delhi based and is the disciple of Abhimanyu Lal, Vidha Lal and Guru Gitanjali Lal. After the Ganesh Vandana, Varsha performed intricate rhythmic footwork pertaining to the Jaipur gharana. She was pleasing and precise in the drut laya bandish and the thihai jugalbandi that involved the masterly tabla percussion rendered by Satyaprakash Mishra.
Meera S. Dandapani is based in Coimbatore and is the disciple of Guru Mrudala Rai of Shree Natya Niketan. She performed a brilliant duet along with Harshini T. It was a rare delight and pleasure to watch the duo perform with fine synchronization of movements and expressions in the Varnam, a Lalgudi Jayaraman composition that featured varied facets of Lord Krishna, the most soul-stirring being the encounter of Krishna with his childhood friend Sudama.
T Reddi Lakshmi
The second and final day of the two day festival featured Swapnokalpa Dasgupta for Odissi, T. Reddi Lakshmi for Kuchipudi, Trina Roy for Kathak and Bharatanatyam duet by Harinie Jeevitha and Bhairavi Venkatesan. Swapnokalpa Dasgupta is also the programme executive for National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai. Swapna was subtle and pleasing in the ashtapadi and a musical rhythmic delight being the Pallavi.
T Reddi Lakshmi is a brilliant Kuchipudi exponent and the disciple of Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao. Lakshmi's performance was stunning, pertaining to Bhagavatamela natakam tradition featuring the dramatization of Prahlada Charitram. Lakshmi literally brought the characters to life; the arrogance of the King Hiranyakashipu and the innocence of Prahlada were well depicted. This number was directed by Ramalinga Sastri. Lakshmi was the only dancer to get a standing ovation.
Harinie Jeevitha & Bhairavi Venkatesan
Trina Roy, the eldest granddaughter of Pandit Jailal and the 11th generation of Jaipur gharana, has sought guidance of Gurus Sushmita Misra and Kajal Misra. Besides the intricate footwork, Trina also performed the Meera bhajan with devotion.
Harinie and Bhairavi are sparkling Bharatanatyam dancers and it was a rare spectacle to watch their duet performance in perfection and fine coordination. They are disciples of Guru Sheela Unnikrishnan of Sridevi Nrithyalaya. In "Omkara Karini" they interpreted the universal goddess and the concept of both Shiva and Shakti. Fine clarity of movements, blending well with subtle expressions and stylized movements were the hallmark of their performance. On the whole it was a fine festival, combining youthful passion with devotion.
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.