Mohanabai Mahalangrekar, 52, daughter of a nomadic harmonium player grew up performing the suggestive songs and dance moves of lavani in villages across Maharashtra. She never went to school, and the traditional Maharashtrian folk dance has been her bread and butter for 40 years now.
Mumbai-based Akanksha Kadam, on the other hand, was introduced to lavani 12 years ago and the 27-year-old is now popular for the fast-paced, Bollywood-style lavani that she performs in stage shows.
Now, the lavani forms of these two dancers - Mahalangrekar's traditional 'sangeet bari' style and Kadam's contemporary filmi style - will be brought together on one stage in Mi Kat Takli (I Shed my Skin), a special show to be held in Matunga on Saturday.
Organised by Bhushan Korgaonkar, a lavani enthusiast, the concert will showcase traditional lavani numbers not staged in the city before.
"The number of lavani shows in Mumbai have increased in the past three years, but artistes of the traditional style come here just once a year for a government-organised festival," said Korgaonkar. "I want to promote these artistes and bring more respect to their art."
The first half will showcase Pune-based sangeet bari artistes. Their style is characterised by suggestive, rather than explicitly seductive, moves.
The second half will feature Mumbai dancers such as Kadam and others including male dancers who have added a Bollywood touch to their dance to cater to Mumbai audiences.
"Lavani is more respected in cities today," said Kadam.
Traditional dancers do not say the same about non-urban audiences. "We are still looked at as lowly women, and I do not want my children to learn or perform lavani," said Mahalangrekar.