Vishwamari ki Dastaan - Dramatic and relevant presentation
- Vijay Shanker
November 10, 2022
Traditional numbers of the Odissi repertoire and innovative dance dramas were the highlights in the celebration of the 23rd year of fruitful existence of Vaishnovi Kala Kshetra, headed by one of the senior most exponents of Odissi, Guru Asha Nambiar. It was amazing to watch a packed audience as 59 dancers trained under Asha Nambiar performed select items from the Odissi repertoire, the highlight being the dance drama 'Vishwamari ki Dastaan' (pertaining to the Covid pandemic), which was performed at the NCPA recently as part of the Catalyst series of programs) and 'Mahakali' (Goddess of power and vitality). The program was held at Veer Savarkar auditorium, Mumbai on 2nd October.
Vaishnovi Kala Kshetra was established in 2000 with the intention of training young aspirants in Odissi dance by Asha Nambiar who is an accomplished exponent and mentor and has sought guidance from established mentors like Guru Natwar Maharana, Protima Bedi and Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. The program was titled 'Navarambh' (A new dawn) after the pandemic. The students danced with a lot of involvement and enthusiasm, especially the number "Nagendra Haraya" (Shankaracharya composition) in praise of Lord Shiva. Each word of 'Na Ma Shi Va Ya' has a beautiful slokam portraying the glory and power of Mahadeva. Another dance drama that received instant applause was 'Vishwamari ki Dastaan' that powerfully depicted how the pandemic paralysed the complete society and how many emerged from this calamity. The choreography creativity in the finale shows how three colours of the Indian flag come together along with the chakra, to form the Indian national flag, well performed by the dancers. While the poetic renditions pertaining to the varied aspects of life were recited, the music was quite enthralling with rhythmic interludes. With better coordination between the dancers and the scenes depicted, this dance drama could be more captivating.
The finale dance drama 'Mahakali' received a standing ovation with the powerful exposition of the virile and benevolent aspect of the goddess. The tussle between the goddess and the demon Mahishasura was well dramatised with the ultimate victory of the goddess, signifying victory over evil for peace and well being of the society. The traditional numbers performed on the occasion included Mangalacharan, Bakuta Pallavi, Arabhi Pallavi that portrays the fine combination of music, melody and rhythmic movements, the Odia composition "To lagi" that portrays the mischievous pranks of Lord Krishna as he stops the Gopis in moving forward towards the river Yamuna to fetch pots of water. The dancers performed with involvement and sincerity.
Vishwamari ki Dastaan
The senior dancers who performed were Anuja Padave, Arati Ranade, Urja Desai, Nijila Abhilash, Sanya Kamani, Anwesa Biswas, Isha Sanghi, Komal Shirodkar, Nannika Bhuptani and the only male dancer Mandal Chavan. While the choreography credit goes to Guru Asha Nambair, the music for 'Mahakali' dance drama was composed by Binod Bihari Panda and the music credits for 'Vishwamari ki Dastaan' goes to Guru Bichitrananda Swain of Rudrakshya Foundation, and Ramli Ibrahim of Sutra Foundation for 'Taal Taranga' from 'Odissi on High', Dancing in Madness by Anoushka Shankar, and poetic renditions "Guzar jayega" and "Tum mujhko kab tak rokoge" by the indomitable Amitabh Bachchan. On the whole, the presentations were dramatic and relevant.
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.