Dancing in unity
Filled with culture in every nook and corner, India also has various dance forms that represent the country and nature at its best. National Centre for Performing Arts, Nariman Point, is all set to bring together a palette filled with many classical dance forms with Charishnu — A Desire To Move, where experts like Aditi Mangaldas (Kathak), Aruna Mohanty (Odissi), Priti Patel (Manipuri), Sadanam Balakrishnan (Kathakali and Mohiniattam), Imocha Singh (Thangta), Mahesh Vinayakram (percussion) and Leela Samson (Bharatanatyam) will be leading their troupes.
Padma Shri awardee, Leela Samson, who has also conceptualised and directed the event, says that mixing all the dance forms together was a task. She says, “The Ministry of Tourism wanted to bring the classical traditional styles together to promote India’s diverse culture on one platform. All the Indian dance forms are very grand and beautiful, and the beats and themes are so different, yet so similar. We had a wonderful time creating it. We have experienced artistes such as Aditi, Aruna and Sadanam Balakrishnan, who is more like a Guru to me — all these people came together and brought with them their own students. They put together small routines, each comprising seven to eight minutes. And my job was to link them together. So, we tried to make each dance form relate to the other. And, we also come together in the end in a song called Maitreem Bhajata by Paramacharya of Kanchi, that represents peace. Mixing them together was the challenge. Some forms such as Manipuri and Kathakali are kind of slow, Kathak and Bharatanatyam are extremely fast. They have different qualities, those qualities must be distinctive when you bring them together. And that’s the basic idea behind Charishnu.”
Sharing the importance of dance in her life, the 67-year- old dancer says that having inspiring artistes around helps. “Dance has been the main activity of my life since I was a little girl. Dancing, ultimately, took predominance because of wonderful personalities around me like Rukminidevi Ji and all my Gurus. Looking at them made me feel that I want to be a dancer as well. I loved how art forms depict the culture of our country, so that fascinated me,” she says.
Talking about the event, Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, head of dance (NCPA) says, “Charishnu is an iconic production of Indian classical dance, conceptualised by Bharatanatyam exponent Leela Samson, where she has worked with some of the biggest names in classical dance. This grand production involves nearly 50 artistes from different parts of the country. Charishnu was first performed 10 years ago at the NCPA, when for the first time we collaborated with Sahachari Foundation, an organisation of women from business families who serve the arts through their philanthropic work.”
For Samson, the former chairperson at Central Board of Film Certification, dancing during the rehearsals than on stage is what is more exciting. She says, “It’s not just the dance that we do on stage, we dance much more while we rehearse and that’s my favourite part. Actually, what happens on stage is a very small percentage of dance that we do. So, teaching, rehearsing, creating… all those tangents, are the best when nobody’s watching. The performance is like a little present, that we get as a result of all the time and efforts.”
Nowadays, dancing has become more commercial than a disciplined art form. Agreeing to the fact, she says, “It has become somewhat commercial. The main difference is that when I was learning, the atmosphere was formal — nobody spoke nonsense, there was a certain decorum to maintain. But having said that, the teacher- student relationships have become more verbal now. We used to wait for our Gurus to nod their head as a token of appreciation, but these days, the teachers proudly flaunt their students. It has become very casual these days and the product that you see is also very casual.”
Coming back to Charishnu, she wants the audience to come and have a good time. “When people will see Charishnu, I want them to notice the production and the efforts behind it. We really need people to admire the diversity and the beauty of the various forms. That would make me really happy,” she concluded.
What: Charishnu — A Desire To Move
Where: At Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
When: On August 3, from 6.30pm.