`Mudra Fest 05' showcased some of the best dancers in India.
PHOTOS: S. MAHINSHA AND S. GOPAKUMAR
VIGNETTES: The traditional and the contemporary were an integral part of `Mudra Fest 05.' Lakshmi Gopalaswamy.
The `Mudra Fest 05' in Thiruvananthapuram showcased some of the best talents in dance, both from the North and South of India. The traditional and the contemporary seamlessly blended to make the festival a visual treat.
`Jalam,' staged by the Samudra Center for Contemporary Performing Arts, stood out for its compact and flawless presentation. `Jalam' or water was portrayed as the Mother Goddess and the many facets of her existence - creation, destruction and pollution by man - were depicted through the the navarasas.
The main dancers, Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev, who are also choreographers and directors of this institute, have been trained in Bharatanatyam, Kalaripayattu and Yoga. It goes to their credit that they have managed to create a unique dance form that is contemporary and aesthetic. No wonder Samudra is going places, quite literally.
The latter half of the evening saw an Odissi performance by Meena Kumari Sahoo, disciple of Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra, and her troupe.
The repertoire was regular and predictable except for the abhinaya number, `Krishna Thandava,' a delightful piece set to the composition `Nachanti range Sri Hari.'
What stood out was the choreography for the group items by Utkalika Pahad Singh. In an invocatory piece on Devi, as well as in the Dashavatara, the graceful movements for creating the iconic forms of the Goddess and Lord Vishnu left memorable images in the viewers' minds.
Rajinder Gangani, a scion of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak, has always been a favourite with the Kerala audience. His 20-member troupe gave an enthralling performance entitled `Kathak Katha.'
It traced the origins of Kathak from its early days in the temple precincts to the Durbar Kaal where it dominated the mehfils of the courts. It was at this time that the attire underwent a change from the `lehenga' to the `angrakha.' The last stage in the process, called `Rangtatva' saw the evolution of Kathak into a form suited for performances on stage.
Story of Kathak
The recital began with a Shiv stuthi in Rag Bagesri with verses from Rudrashtaka. This and a few pieces that followed were representative of the early period in Kathak with its accent on devotion.
A scene from `Jalam.'
In this section, a piece `Kesariya balam,' from `Dhola Maaru,' a legendary folktale of Rajasthan, highlighted the style of the Jaipur gharana. This was a composition by Rajinder's father, Kundan Lal Gangani. A tumri in rag Desh and Sargam were pieces that represented the Durbar kaal. The item called Panchatatva representing the latest stage in the evolution was a grand finale of sorts in which all the 20 dancers came on stage. It was an imaginative yet skilful piece of choreography that sought to depict the five elements of nature. The tatkars won rounds of applause and the chakkars were brilliantly executed by both the male and female dancers.
However, one felt that this number would have looked more spectacular on a bigger stage. Swati Sinha, the lead dancer, showed great promise. The only disappointment came in the form of the taped music that was used as well as the non-participation of Rajinder Gangani who had injured his foot.
The concluding day saw the Bharatanatyam recital of Lakshmi Gopalaswamy.
She began her performance with a Ganapathi sthuti in Raga Gowla, set to Misra chaap taalam, followed by alarippu in raga and tala malika. The main piece, a varnam `Aadi Sivane' in Todi, was a composition of Dandayuthapani Pillai.
Lakshmi is an artiste who maintains the right blend of the nritta and nrithya aspects of dance. For the padam, Lakshmi chose a rare piece from Swati Tirunal's `Kuchelopakhyanam' that begins `Smarathinu maam sadayam' in Behag. Here too, her abhinaya was subtle, yet articulate as she portrayed the hesitant Kuchela on his visit to Sri Krishna.
She concluded her recital with a thillana of Lalgudi Jayaraman in raga Kamas.
`Mudra Fest 05' presented a rare opportunity for lovers of dance.
But the audience, though highly appreciative, was rather sparse.
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