Male dancers dominate in Yuva Mahotsav
- Vijay Shanker
Photos courtesy: Smitalay
October 4, 2022
The 19th Sanjukta Panigrahi Yuva Mahotsav as a tribute to the legendary couple Sanjukta and Raghunath Panigrahi, was organised by Odissi exponent Jhelum Paranjape on behalf of Smitalay, at Kanak Sabha of Nalanda Nrityakala Mahavidyalaya on 20th and 21st August, featuring nine distinct dance styles, including Sattriya and Chhau dance. It was unusual as male dancers dominated the festival - seven male dancers and only four female dancers. It was a fine harmony of masculine vigour and vibrancy, along with the elegance and softness of the feminine counterpart.
Jhelum remarked, "Smitalay has been hosting this festival since 2004, the year Sanju Nani (Sanjukta Panigrahi) would have turned 60, had she been alive. Her birthday falls on 24th August. It was a one day festival then. Raghu Bhaina (Raghunath Panigrahi) died on 25th August 2013; since then we've always tried to host a two day festival, in memory of both. In 2019 we celebrated her 75th birthday in a grand way. We hope to continue this festival till her 100th birthday."
The first male dancer to perform for the festival was Raj Kayle in the Kathak dance style. Raj is undoubtedly a devoted performer; in spite of being in an accident and injured, he performed with complete involvement and sincerity, revealing his mastery in intricate and complex footwork pertaining to rhythmic patterns in the Jaipur gharana style of Kathak. Raj was ably supported by Satyaparaksh Mishra on tabla, Dhananjay Dubey for vocal and padant by Pandit Rajkumar Jaipurwale. Raj also exceeded the time limit which is not fair to other dancers, as they wait anxiously to perform. Ultimately it is the quality of the performance which is of prime importance and not the quantity of time consumed.
Atanu Das from Kolkata rendered a brilliant Bharatanatyam performance with striking movements, blending well with rhythmic accuracy and expressive delight. Atanu is seeking guidance from Bharatanatyam exponent Parvati Nambiar, besides his initial training from veteran mentors. Commencing with the invocatory Nandi Chol in triputa talam, Atanu's rendering of "Shankara shrigiri nadaprabho" in praise of the glory and grandeur of the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva was a pleasure to behold.
The Sattriya dancers Dipjyoti Das and Dipankar Arandhara with identical looks and fine execution of synchronised movements, dancing with uniformity, was a fine spectacle. Although the movements were limited and repetitive, what was appealing the most was their sincere involvement with simultaneous and supplementary movements that created a lasting spell on the audience. After the Krishna Vandana, the duo was impressive in the dramatic display of various characters pertaining to Raghunath Varnan.
Dipjyoti Das & Dipankar Arandhara
Dipali, one of the foremost disciples of Odissi exponent Jhelum Paranjape, interpreted the Ramayana, based on Tulsidas's Ramcharitra Manas. Jhelum announced that this item was exclusively performed by the celebrated Sanjukta Panigrahi for several years and it was only after her passing away that Jhelum could learn this item from Kelubabu. What was presented was the concise version. Dipali did complete justice to this number by portraying the varied episodes of Ramayana with dramatic involvement along with the required manodharma. It was a rare delight to listen to the original music and composition rendered by Pt Raghunath Panigrahi.
Rishika Pillai is an upcoming disciple of Guru Geeta V Shankar. Rishika performed Ganapati and the Varnam that included the episodes of Markandeya being saved by Lord Shiva from the clutches of death and the consuming of poison by Shiva, hence being named Neelakanta. Rishika can definitely do better regarding the aesthetics of Mohiniattam, however she scored in expressional dancing.
Ankit Pahadiya is a fine Mayurbhanj dancer. Unlike Seraikella and Purulia Chhau, Mayurbhanj Chhau is the only form that does not use the mask. Ankit appeared in the typical disguise of Kali with black costume incorporating the story of how the goddess defeated the demon Raktabeej. The performance could not take off and reach the climax in spite of his elaborate movements of vibrancy and vitality. However, Ankit was quite impressive in the second martial dance known as 'Hathyaar Dhara' in which the dancer as "yoddha" or soldier, appears with the typical sword and spear in order to attack his opponent. Agile and muscular, Ankit moves effortlessly on the stage and currently is the only Mayurbhan Chhau dancer in Mumbai.
Manipuri dancer W Telish Devi was quite pleasing. With slow and gliding movements, she interpreted the number about the romance of Radha and Krishna, and their relationship, which was more suggestive and less expressive. Devi has the potential to do better as a performer.
Chakravarthy Dhonga, disciple of Vempati Srimayi, is a fine Kuchipudi dancer and performed the popular composition of Oothukadu Venkata Subbiah, "Marakata..." in praise of Lord Krishna portraying the multi-faceted and colourful Krishna with the finale dance on the rim of the brass plate. Chakravarthy performed well with fine execution of movements with grace and precision. The jugalbandi of rhythm and dance on the brass plate was a delight for the audience, receiving instant appreciation.
Renjish Nair & Divya Nandagopan
The lone Kathakali performance featured 'Duryodhana Vadham' wherein Draupadi complains to Krishna and tells him that she is quite restless to apply blood of Duryodhana on her hair locks and wonders as to when that fateful day would come. The role of Krishna was enacted by Renjish Nair, disciple of Kalamandalam Gopalakrishnan and role of Draupadi was enacted by Kalakshetram Divya Nandagopan. Kalakshetram is an organisation devoted to promotion of classical arts in Dombivli. Gopalakrishnan is on the teaching faculty. Both Renjish and Divya were pleasing for their mukhuja abhinaya. On the whole it was a grand festival of nine dance styles, with the participation of ten performers. Kudos to Smitalay.
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.