- Ranee Kumar
Photos: Sanjit Debroy
September 25, 2022
It was a galaxy cascade, the gravitational pull being a homage to the pioneering dance couple in the country who had given their entire lifetime to the cause of dance. Saroja Mohanam, a two-day dance tribute to historian and archivist Mohan Khokar and his wife Bharatanatyam guru M.K. Saroja was one-of-its-kind fest which was muted yet magnificent, calm and composed yet dotted with dignitaries from Member of Parliament Sonal Mansingh to litterateur classicist Bharat Gupt, Neemrana Hotels chairman art connoisseur Aman Nath to Member Secretary IGNCA, Sachchidanand Joshi.
Navtej Singh Johar
Day one was a peek into the mystic aspect in dance with performances by Navtej Singh Johar (Bharatanatyam), Kavita Dwibedi (Odissi) and Aditi Mangaldas (Kathak). Kavita unveiled the dance stage with two meaningful pieces - the one on Meera being suffused with sensitivity and serenity. She set the tone for the next two artistes who scaled the heights of subtle abhinaya in gradation. Navtej was a yogi personified as he danced with soulful emotion that touched a chord in one's heart even as he reached the depths of the sublime. Aditi explored the spiritual skies with her movement vocabulary that was stunning. It naturally elicited a standing ovation from the aficionados.
A short film on Mohan Khokar Dance Collection, presently with IGNCA archives was educational and interesting. The 22nd edition of the yearbook on dance attenDance originally conceived by Mohan Khokar and continued for 23 years by his son, dance historian Ashish Khokar was launched on the occasion. He conducted the two days homage with customary calm and candour. Professor Bharat Gupt, the thinker-scholar released it, giving the first copy to art icon Aman Nath. Pt. Kailash Sharma opened day one with melodic flute to set the sombre mood of a homage which on day two, was furthered by G. Raghuram on the flute and V. Shridhar on vocals.
The second day was devoted to the memory of veteran guru M.K. Saroja, an artiste of international repute in her times who recently passed away. Dr. Joshi of the IGNCA reminisced about his two meetings with Sarojama and her innate spirituality. He stated her son Ashish has inherited the same, along with her smile!
Photo: Shalini Jain
Leela Samson, Madhavi Mudgal, Alarmel Valli
A tribute by star dance trio Madhavi Mudgal, Leela Samson and Alarmel Valli was the rarest of rare shows in recent times. The super seniors could give the younger generation a run for their art - lithe in body and spirit, they were a vision to behold. Madhavi flitted across the stage like a bird in flight with her nimble footwork; Leela Samson exuded grace and charm with her expressive eyes and movements. She could hold the audience in awesome admiration with her defined abhinaya. The evergreen Valli as always was a breath of fresh air in springtime. Agile, deer-like movements are her forte with her inimitable abhinaya. Oral tributes by the three dancers and other gurus like Raja Reddy, Nalini (Kathak), Meera Das (Odissi) and others was the highlight of the concluding day at near full hall, the Stein auditorium in India Habitat Centre. Delhi woke up from Covid slumber and anyone who was anyone was in attendance.
Ranee Kumar is a journalist who brings in three decades of hard core journalistic experience with.mainstream papers like the Indian Express and The Hindu to arts reporting. Her novel 'Song of Silence' and guest editing of attenDance widen her horizon.