Atharvotsav promotes young and seasoned artistes
- Vijay Shanker
Photos courtesy: Atharva School of Fine Arts
June 3, 2023
Atharva School of Fine Arts (Mumbai) celebrated International Dance Day with Atharvotsav for two days on 28th and 29th April at the Mysore Association auditorium in Mumbai presenting more than a hundred performers, both young over the age 15 and seasoned artistes as well.
While Bharatanatyam and Kathak performances dominated the scenario, it was refreshing and interesting to watch Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Odissi, Sattriya and folk dances being presented on the same platform. This annual festival is being organised by the director of Atharva School, Guru Shamal Pawar and her husband, without any corporate support whatsoever. This festival attracted the attention of professional performers from cities like Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Chennai and Kolkata too.
Shamal Pawar says, "Since 2015, I have been organising Atharvotsav mainly with the intention of encouraging young talent and promoting seasoned performers as well. In fact, it is the promotion and propagation of classical music and dance; being a performer and mentor, it is quite gratifying for me to watch young dancers dancing with a lot of enthusiasm and devotion. After consistently teaching and performing throughout the year, whatever money I am able to accumulate, I spend it for this annual festival. I hope the corporate sector comes forward to support this noble cause of promoting Indian arts and artistes next time."
Atharva School of Fine Arts
Atharva School of Fine Arts was established in 2003, teaching Indian classical music, folk and classical dances and has performed for various prestigious festivals. Guru Shamal Pawar is the disciple of veteran mentor Guru S.P. Sreenivasan. Dancers from Atharva School performed 'Sarvam Sakthimayam' on Nava Durga Aradhanai incorporating the story of how the goddess is blessed by the gods with supernatural powers to avenge the evil demons. The presentation portrayed the dramatic version of the benevolent and the virile aspects of the goddess with fine involvement creating a spell on the audience.
This year for the first time, Swaralaya Sangeet Vidyalaya led by mridangam vidwan Satish Krishnamurthy, created a wonderful percussion musical impact on the audience, along with his team of talented musicians. Incidentally Satish recently was bestowed with the Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar from Sangeet Natak Akademi. He is the leading mridangist in Mumbai, accompanying dancers and vocalists in India and abroad, besides being a fine music composer.
Aditya Anukula & Varsha Pachava
There were only three male dancers who performed in the festival. Atanu Das and Karuna Ketan Bhakta are fine Bharatanatyam dancers from Kolkata. Aditya Anukula is a talented Kuchipudi dancer and the son and disciple of the veteran mentor Guru Bala Kondala Rao, who is among the foremost disciples of Guru Vempati Chinna Satyam. Bala has established her own dance academy in Visakhapatnam and trained several dance aspirants. Aditya performed a Kuchipudi duet with Varsha Pachava; the duo performed Balagopala Tarangam, noteworthy for the expressional pranks of little Krishna and the stylistic rhythmic quality, dancing on the rim of the brass plate.
Karuna Ketan Bhakta
Atanu Das performed "Shankara srigiri Nadaprabhu" and Ketan performed another number in praise of Lord Shiva. It was amazing to watch the male dancers dancing with clarity of movements besides the powerful display of stylistic movements. Atanu has danced in China and European countries and is quite established as a dancer and mentor. Ketan has danced for some prestigious festivals.
Accomplished Kathak exponent from Thane, Mukta Joshi is the disciple of Kathak mentor Roshan Kumari of the Jaipur Gharana. Mukta is the director of Nritya Dhara Kathak Research Institute and has trained several Kathak aspirants. Mukta's performance was particularly noteworthy for its technical quality, expressional delight, fine teyyari and layakari. Mukta executed Jhap taal precisely and interpreted the thumri "Dekho rokat" with natural expressions.
Soundarya Natya Kalalaya
Soundarya Natya Kalalaya, one of the foremost Bharatanatyam dance institutes of Mumbai for more than three decades, was established by veteran Guru Padmini Radhakrishnan. The performances are a harmonious blend of melodious music and technical quality of varied movements. Padmini is also a commendable Carnatic music vocalist.
One of the foremost Kathak exponents of Mumbai, Guru Ranjana Phadke established Kathakalaya and has trained several dance aspirants. Her performance was remarkable for the intense portrayal of viraha tapam as the heroine suffers from the pangs of separation, and also for the rhythmic excellence.
Mahati Bhikshu is the talented daughter of Dr Aruna Bhikshu of Hyderabad. Her Kuchipudi performance in the Yakshagana tradition portraying Mahishasura Mardini created a magical spell on the audience, due to the intense portrayal of the fight against the demon Mahisha. As a mentor, Aruna is particularly credited for the immaculate display of male characters. This number was choreographed by Aruna.
Kalamandalam Sreeja Krishnan's Mohiniattam was refreshing for its elegance, clarity of movements and dramatic portrayal of the demoness Poothana as she tries to kill the infant Krishna; the pain and the suffering and ultimately the attainment of moksha was impressive.
Sreeja hails from Trichur but is now settled in Chennai and has also established her own dance academy. Sreeja also performed the popular lullaby, a Swati Thirunal composition "Omana thingal kidavo" establishing the vatsalya bhava of the mother for her child.
Lata Surendra & disciples
Bharatanatyam exponent Dr Lata Surendra and her talented disciples of Anjali Institute interpreted 'Ashrudhara', a visual elegy on the tears of the flowing water. Her reluctance to leave heaven, her rage and beseeching cry to human beings to accord unto her, a heaven on earth, stirred every heart. Layers of the sacred Ganga fall known as "bhagavad padi" and finally her reluctance to leave the matted locks for the insensitive casual world. Gathering of Goddess Ganga on the matted locks of Shiva and finally her branching out as 'Sapta theertha' were among the many highlights of this thought provoking presentation.
Lehja Art Foundation
Harshada Jambekar is an accomplished Kathak exponent from Mumbai. Her performance was remarkable for her complete control and command over rhythmic footwork, revealing her layakari and teyyari. Another proficient Kathak dancer Sheetal Kapole performed along with dancers from her Lehja Art Foundation. They presented "Sundar Shyam Salone" in praise of Lord Krishna and impressed the audience with the precise execution of the Tarana in raag Desh, performed by five girls and one male dancer.
The Odissi grace and delight was revealed by Shayomita Dasgupta from Kolkata. Besides the Odia composition "Braj ka chora" incorporating the mischievous little Krishna, Shayomita was quite pleasing in the Pattabi Pallavi, choreography by Ratikant Mohapatra, that displayed stylistic and elegant movements that forms a fine harmonious blend of music, melody and dance.
Several group and solo presentations were held for the two days. The other performers included Kathak exponent Sunila Potdal and students from Eklavya Art Foundation, Bharatanatyam by Jalsa Chandra from Kolkata. Bharatanatyam by Ameya Krishna from Kerala (disciple of Guru Mohana Thulasi), Kuchipudi by Parvati Menon, Bharatanatyam by Divya Gopal from Chennai, brilliant Kathak by Neha Muthiyan and her team from Kathak Pathshala (Pune), Bharatanatyam by Dr Chandrika Sunderesan from Kerala, Folk dances by Archita Mehta's Nritya Sadhana, Bharatanatyam by Mausam Mahendra's Natya Ved School of Fine Arts, Bharatanatyam by Nisreya Varalakshmi from Chennai, Kathak by Priyanka Shinde's Nrityangan Cultural Academy, Bharatanatyam by Geeta Venkateshwar's Bharata Natya Kalalaya, Bharatanatyam by Revathi Srinivasaraghavan's Nritya Ranjani Fine Arts Academy, Kathak by Gauri Pauskar's Nritya Zankar, Bharatanatyam by Asha Sunil Kumar's Sanskriti Fine Arts, Nisha Gilbert's Nupur School of Dance, Bharatanatyam by Prema Nagasundaram's Bharati Natya Kalalaya, Sattriya by Preetileka Choudhary, Bharatanatyam by Lakshmi Anantharaman, Isha Kathavate and her Ishalaya School of Kathak, Odissi by Geeetanjali Acharya from New Delhi, Mohiniattam by Gitanjali Dance School of Geeta VS and Kathak by Divya Rao.
On the whole it was a grand festival and a fine exposition of varied talents.
Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.