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Mesmerising movements


Classical dancers from across India set the stage on fire at the Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival.

Photos: S. Mahinsha and S. Gopakumar

Stamp of artistry: (clockwise from top left): Geetha Chandran, Rajendra Gangani and his disciples, Singajith Singh, Shasadhar Acharya, Vinitha Nedungadi and Sailaja were some of the dancers who participated in the Nishagandhi Dance and Music Festival in Thiruvananthapuram.

The week-long Nishagandhi Dance and Music festival saw some of the best artistes in the country performing for mesmerised rasikas at the Nishagandhi open-air auditorium in Thiruvananthapuram.

Kathak by Rajendra Gangani and his disciples started off the annual fete. A torch-bearer of Jaipur gharana, Gangani is known for his innovative style. Titled ‘Raas Rang,’ the performance was a choreographed piece based on four rasas: bhakti (devotion), sringara (erotic love), hasya (the comic) and adbutha (wonder). Gangani started the performance with an eye-catching piece titled ‘Shiva sthuthi.’ This was followed by another solo in theen thal. The depiction of ‘varsha’ through his brisk footwork, supported by the mellifluous tinkle of his anklets was superb and left the audience spellbound. His troupe members, including one of his senior disciples Swathi Sinha, did a commendable job in a group choreography.

Geetha Chandran, Delhi-based dancer and teacher, enlivened the spectators with ‘Ekam Sath,’ a performance tracing the common threads that unite India as a nation. A traditional Pushpanjali was followed by a composition on ‘Vandemaataram.’ She then moved on to a ‘kautam’ depicting several aspects of Lord Shiva. Another piece ‘Bho Shambo,’ a composition of Swami Dayanand Saraswathi, stole the show. For the item, Geetha presented the many attributes of the Lord, with apt abhinaya and striking poses. The Swati Tirunal padam ‘Alarsaraparithapam,’ and a well-crafted piece on Goddess Durga were also noteworthy. The recital concluded with a sankeerthanam ‘Vanamali Vasudeva.’

Impeccable abhinaya

Geeta’s recital was followed by a brilliant Manipuri performance by Guru Singajith Singh and group. Singajith Singh was impeccable in his abhinaya and succeeded in making the performance very active. His co-dancer Charu Sija Mathur, with her subtle and flowing movements, beautifully conveyed the essence of the art form to the audience. The group item ‘Swavinash,’ portraying the encroachment of man into every possible field and the misuse of his wisdom, was quite commendable. Adding to the appeal of the performance was an impressive display of martial arts.

Vinitha Nedungadi, one of the leading Mohiniyattam exponents in Kerala, presented some enchanting items on the fourth day of the festival. She began with a ‘Ganeshsthuthi’ and moved on to cholkettu.

This was followed by the depiction of ‘Karukare karmukhil’ by Kavalam Narayana Panicker, where Vinitha did full justice to the intense lyrics. Splendid choreography and perfect execution with graceful hand movements and abhinaya marked the depiction of this item.

Next came a piece from ‘Snigdamadhusoodhanam’ in ‘Geethagovinda’ for which the music was composed by Kottakal Madhu, the vocalist for the evening. ‘Thiruseva,’ another item in her recital, combined the steps of Kathakali with a sloka in praise of Lord Viswambara, written by Vaidyaratnam P.S.Warrier. Vinitha concluded with a verse from ‘Soundaryalahari.’

Perfect synchronisation

Chahu by Shasadhar Acharya and group was a memorable experience for rasikas on the fifth day of the festival. The recital comprised compositions such as ‘Ratri’ and ‘Cosmic dance of Shiva.’ The costumes and masks used in the presentation of ‘Ratri’ were striking and the dancers performed it with perfect synchronisation. They used the stage brilliantly.

‘Cosmic dance of Shiva’ by one of the group members was quite amazing. The dancer’s complicated movements and arresting poses recreated the vibrancy of Lord Shiva on stage.

Kuchipudi recital by Chennai-based dancer Sailaja and her disciples was notable for its beauty and rhythmic execution. The commencing piece ‘Suryashtakam,’ was a request to the Sun to dispel negative energy. Sailaja chose a ‘Raagamalika tarangam’ as the main item. Another outstanding piece was ‘Sapthathandavam,’ highlighting the cosmic Lord Shiva, for which the music was composed by Pappu Venugopala Rao.

The festival concluded with an Odissi recital by Nandini Ghosal and troupe. The recital titled ‘Bhanusingher Padabali,’ was an adaptation of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s poem of the same name. An attempt to recapture the traditional love story of Radha and Krishna, the dance drama was very precise and focused. Nandini skillfully incorporated minute but significant details of the story into her choreography, which was a perfect example of her proficiency in the art form.

The annual festival was organised by Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala.

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