The classical Kathak took on a contemporary form on Saturday, as artiste Gauri Sharma Tripathi brought to life lyricist Javed Akhtar’s soulful poem ‘Waqt’ at Cross Maidan on Saturday, day one of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.
Tripathi, artist in residence at the South Bank Centre, one of the biggest art centres in London, revived her interpretation of the poem after a gap of eight years, having first performed Waqt at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
“We adapted the choreography to give Kathak a fresh aura with a lot of energy and dynamics, to also attract youngsters to the dance form,” said Tripathi, daughter of legendary Kathak dancer Padma Sharma, who comes from the Lucknow gharana and was trained by Birju Maharaj.
A fusion of classical beats with a Sufi touch and fast-paced choreography left the audience enthralled, with many bringing out their mobile phones and cameras to record the performance.
Despite 30 years of dancing behind her, Tripathi, who was debuting at the festival, said she was still nervous before stepping on to the stage. “It is always intimidating to go on stage, and Kala Ghoda is such a big festival,” she said, as she drew parallels with the Alchemy Festival that she curates at South Bank Centre.
But once on stage, the artiste oozed unbridled energy. The performance involved Tripathi and her two co-dancers showcasing the cycle of time.
The eclectic music, composed by Mumbai-based Taufiq Qureshi and Niraj Chag, added a heart-pounding effect to the performances, along with the dancers’ alternating white and black costumes.
Among the attendees was a woman with a beaming smile. “I am happy to see my daughter at the Kala Ghoda festival. She used to come along with me every time I practiced Kathak,” said Padma Sharma, director of the Bhatkhande Sangeet Mahavidyalay in Lucknow.
Added Lata Surenda, curator of the dance segment of the festival: “Tripathi gave a new dimension to Kathak by fusing it with other dance forms for story-telling and by bringing innovation to tradition.”