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Navapallava in Bhubaneswar
Photos: Ganesh Sahoo

June 14, 2019

In an effort to support and encourage the new generation of classical dancers across India, the first edition of Navapallava was organised as a collaboration between Srjan and Orissa Dance Academy at Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, on May 25, 2019. This initiative aims to provide a dignified platform for promising classical dancers aged between 25 and 40 years, to showcase their skill and talent pan India, under the patronage of eminent gurus across their respective cities. While Navapallava was conceived as the brainchild of Ashok Jain, Vice Chairman of SPICMACAY, it is an ideological collaboration among dance gurus across various cities, who have been working relentlessly towards the smooth operation of the movement.

On behalf of the entire dance community, Aruna Mohanty and I are privileged to initiate Navapallava as a series of classical dance events in Bhubaneswar. Our prime focus is to highlight the role of the young dancer in Indian classical dance while taking a stand against the practice of 'Pay and Perform' that many upcoming dancers face in their journey of art.

All artistes invest a substantial amount of time, energy, hard work, and money to learn an art form and become proficient in their talent. In recent years, one of the biggest deterrents for dancers in the pursuit of their chosen art has been the need to provide cash donations or sponsor their own performances to showcase their talent. Several senior artistes across India have thus united against this form of exploitation and taken up the initiative Navapallava in different parts of the country to promote young talent, and give them the respect that they deserve as professionals.

The inaugural edition of Navapallava commenced with the traditional lighting of the lamp by Snehaprava Samantray, eminent Odissi dancer, Paramita Mahapatra, Director, IMFA, Nivedita Scader, and Aruna Mohanty. Present in the audience were eminent luminaries from the world of art and related fields, artistes, and students of various dance institutions. The evening featured a Kuchipudi presentation by Aarthi Vasudevan, and a Kathak presentation by Komal Khushwani.

Aarthi Vasudevan

Komal Khushwani

A trained Kuchipudi dancer under the tutelage of Guru Sailaja, Aarthi Vasudevan, who is an empanelled artiste of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), and also a 'B' grade artiste of Doordarshan, commenced her recital with a Tarangam composed by 17th century Sanskrit scholar and poet, Narayana Teertha. In this presentation, the dancer executed varied rhythmic patterns while standing on the rim of a brass plate, a notable feature of many traditional Kuchipudi presentations. Her second presentation was Sakhi he, an ashtapadi from the eminent 12th century poet, Jayadeva's Gita Govinda. In this ashtapadi, Radha entreats her friend to bring Krishna to her as she reminisces their time of union and pines for his love. Aarthi's final piece was a powerful and energetic presentation of the Mahishasura Mardhini Stotram based on the Devi Mahatmyam. In this creditable performance, Aarthi encapsulated through her movements and expressions, the power and grandeur of Goddess Durga.

Following this, Komal Khushwani, a disciple of Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj, presented a Kathak recital. Komal started training in Kathak under the renowned guru Reva Vidyarthi, and has also received the guidance and mentorship of Malti Shyam, and Rani Khanum. Integral to many compositions and productions of her guru Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj, Komal commenced her performance with Madhurashtakam, composed by the 15th century Bhakti poet and philosopher, Sri Vallabhacharya, describing the enchanting and glorious attributes of Lord Krishna. Set to the harmonious music composition of maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj, it was as though both the dancer and the audience were enraptured by this sublime rendition of Madhurashtakam by the legend himself. Komal's second and concluding presentation for the evening was a Thumri, depicting Radha's eternal and sublime love for Lord Krishna.

Engaging the audience with their neat footwork and appealing stage presence, these talented young dancers are carrying forward the rich heritage of their classical dance forms with great promise. They were aided in their presentations by the able light design of Jaydev Das, and the compering of Ananya Parida.

Komal Khushwani & Aarthi Vasudevan

Navapallava has received an overwhelming response and generous support from members of the audience. By promoting young practitioners of dance, hosting them with the respect they deserve as artistes and professionals, and paying them for their travel and performances, Navapallava represents the coming together of the entire artiste community to encourage the new generation of artistes to carry forward their rich cultural legacy with the spirit of professionalism and excellence..

Guru Ratikant Mohapatra is the Director of Srjan (Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Nrityabasa) in Bhubaneswar.

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