Strictly come dancing: Pick between three festivals of fancy footwork
If you’re a fan of Indian classical dance, if you’re a performer, of even if you’re someone who’s been meaning to catch a show, this weekend is an embarrassment of riches. There are three festivals playing simultaneously – showcasing various classical dance forms at multiple venues and featuring eminent artistes.
The National Centre for Performing Arts hosts its annual dance festival, Mudra, based on the theme of oneness and how everything in the world is connected. Catch performances by stalwarts such as Lata Surendra, Astad Deboo and Aditi Mangaldas.
At the Sindhu Classical Dance Festival, there’s the Manipuri form of Ras Leela, a local twist to the traditional take on the Radha and Krishna love story. And at the Prayaag Festival of Indian Classical Dance, senior Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odissi dancers will present their pieces on the theme—Radha, the Eternal Mystery — or their reinterpretations of goddess Radha. See what else is in store.
Of Krishna, Radha and Shivaji
Four artistes, three classical dance styles, three venues. The seventh edition of the Sindhu Classical Dance Festival, which began on Friday, will host Bharatnatyam, Kathak and Manipuri performances until Sunday.
Manipuri dancer Rina Devi’s Basanta Ras Leela incorporates local rituals to showcase the love between Radha and Krishna. In Krishnagaatha, Bharatnatyam exponent Sujata Nair presents an ode to Krishna. “I have picked compositions of different saint poets, whose lyrics portray all aspects of devotion to Krishna,” says Nair. “My piece is going to be about being with Krishna, away from him, for him, to him and Krishna himself.”
Vaibhav Arekar will showcase Margam, a solo recital which comprises six traditional dance pieces weaved together through Bharatnatyam. He will also pay tribute to Shivaji in a presentation titled Shrimant Yogi, which also played in Pune and Chennai. “The piece will chronologically showcase his life of sacrifice, war and conflict,” says Arekar who organises Sindhu along with Sushant Jadhav each year. Kathak exponent Ashimabandhu Bhattacharjee will present Pratibimb, a work designed to reveal duality in life—the good and the evil, the masculine and feminine, creation and destruction.
In how many forms can you imagine Radha? The Prayaag Festival of Indian Classical Dance aims at reinterpreting the goddess through three classical dance styles, Bharatnatyam, Kathak and Odissi.
The festival, now in its 12th year, is conceptualised by Odissi exponent Shubhada Varadkar’s Sanskrita Trust, in association with Natanam Studio for Performing Arts. It’s been a platform for relatively junior artistes and a rare opportunity for them to see and interact with their senior counterparts. For audiences, of course, it’s a fantastic chance to see new and established talent.
Gurus and senior performers will present their versions of Radha on Saturday. Bharatnatyam exponent Sandhya Purecha and Uma Dogra have Kathak performances. Varadkar will play the goddess through the Odissi dance form.
Odissi dancer Namrata Mehta who is presenting Navrasa or the nine emotions in classical dance, linked them with nature. Bhaya or fear was interpreted as being afraid of the dark. She says the platform has been an important medium to promote their journey of dance. “While it gives us an opportunity to showcase years of practice, there’s also a lot of learning from our gurus who perform on the second day and a chance to see them in their element,” says Mehta.
Interconnections on stage
In its seventh year, NCPA’s dance festival, Mudra, celebrates the idea of oneness: This is because that is. You are because I am.
Artistes will explore the theme through Bharatnayam, Kathak, Sattriya, contemporary, Kathakali and Manipuri.
Kathak exponent Aditi Mangaldas will showcase Widening Circles, which is based on the concept of interdependency. Presented in three parts, her work represents the blossoming lotus and its connection with the sun, moon and the earth.
In Sethu, Bharatnatyam dancer Lata Surendra, accompanied by Manipuri, Kathak, sattriya and contemporary-style dancers, will showcase the connection of life with mind, body and soul.
“For us, oneness translates into many deep connections that exist between the different forms of the arts, among the different styles of dances and also between the body, mind and soul of a dancer,” says Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, head of dance programming for the NCPA. “Through dance, our performers will try to put across that everything in the universe is connected.”
You can also catch Odissi exponent Sujata Mahapatra’s piece, Adyanta—meaning the beginning and end—which will be about the journey through dance from beginning to the end.
The fest will host workshops too. Choreographer Sanjukta Wagh’s session will be on the relevance of words and its connection with dance movements. Painter and sculptor Subodh Poddar will guide participants to create sketches of dancers. Bharatnatyam dancers Harikrishna Kalyanasundaram and Lata Raman will explore the interdependency between music and dance. Kathakali expert Sadanam Balakrishnan, Kathak exponent Aditi Mangaldas and Bharatanatyam dancer Priyadarsini Govind will also hold sessions on the three main components of dance – Natya, Nritta and Nritya.