HER UNFLAGGING zeal for perfection has shaped her into one of the most accomplished exponents of the Lucknow Gharana. Her swift facial expressions and fragility mirrors Guru Lachchu Maharaj’s style.
Kumkum Dhar, who trained under Lachchu Maharaj, has a doctorate in Economics and is also well-versed in theatre and vocal singing.
Enumerating the difference that has seeped in the Gharana, she said, “Earlier, it used to be a solo dance and was a male bastion. Gradually, females started taking to kathak.
Lot of changes in the composition of instruments has also come about. In some cases, drums and shehnai are used as part of the musical apparatus.”
Content wise, too, there are numerous changes. Earlier, dances were themed only on mythological and folk tales. However, lot of contemporary issues like environment are being used in the presentations today. Costumes have also seen a transformation as per the contemporary taste.
On the vulgarity that has filtered into dances, she said, “This is very unfortunate. Dance has spiritual links. In Indian concept, it is a platform that gives true internal happiness.”
“The current generation is extremely sincere and dedicated. They are also quite focussed. As per my experience, the guru-shishya tradition is still alive. Today, the gurus are educated and more understanding. They are like friends now,” she said.
“It is difficult to take up dance as a full-time profession. There is lot of dependence and team work involved but still with determination it is possible,” Kum Kum said. “Immense family support is also required.”
On being asked if she had infused innovations in the traditional style, she said, “Yes, I have made many new compositions that are thematically choreographed.”
Finally, she said that kathak has infused her with a sense of discipline and given lessons on leading a fruitful life.”
THE PROGRAMME started with invoking the blessings of Lord Shiv — Rudrashtam — themed on Jhaptal and Raag Shankar. This was followed by a pure dance on Vilambit and Dhrut showcasing superb footwork and scintillating movements. A solo performance by Kumkum Dhar — Eri Sakhi Mere Piya Ghar Aaye — further mesmerised the audiences.
Rukmani Jaiswal and Deepmala Sachan performed Dadra (Chodo Chodo Bihari). The Dhanush Bhang ki Katha from Ramayan was a perfect amalgamation of bhava, laasya and abhinaya percolating an infectious exuberance on stage. The last performance — Ritu Varnan — was a visual treat. It depicted the moods and flavours of different seasons. The dancers were accompanied by Ravinath Mishra (tabla), Naveen Mishra (sitar), Mohanlal Kunwarji (flute) and Ravi Nagar (vocal).