The theme for the dance section of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is Diksha: Sublime Initiation, and it was encapsulated perfectly in a range of performances held at Cross Maidan on Monday. These included Bharatanatyam by choreographer and guru Vidhya Subramanian, a performance without music by Tonya Schilling titled Blue Water, and folk forms from Karnataka and Chhattisgarh.
“Vidhyaji’s performance was dazzling,” said Anurag Singhal, 28, a financial consultant who left work early to attend it. “The venue was also perfect for it too, giving it the gravitas that it deserved.”
Smoke billowed from the two wings of the stage as Subramanian performed before an enthusiastic audience.
“Some of my performance is about the cosmos, and what better than to have the cosmos within view while performing,” she said after the event. “I also like the informal nature of the relationship between the audience and the performerthat is fostered in open-air venues.”
Schilling, speaking after her performance, said her dance was meant to illustrate how life is like water; a poem on the same theme was read before her dance.
“Life and water both move forward whether we want them to or not, relentlessly forward, both beautiful and destructive.”
Later, audiences were privy to folk dance performances by young members of Shrushti Kala Manch, Naigaon, who performed the Dollu Kunitha and Panthi dances from northern Karnataka and Chhattisgarh respectively.
“I’ve never seen anything like the Panthi dance before,” said audience member Anuya Jatakar, 18, a college student. “We all know that India is diverse, but when you are witness to an art form so new and different, that’s when the scale of the diversity really sinks in.”