Seasoned dancer-duo Nandini Mehta and Murali Mohan’s passion for classical arts in general and dance in particular and compassion for the less blessed class of our society is really praiseworthy. The duo is well-known for its artistic accomplishments and also as hosts of a variety of programmes and festivals. The mega festival of classical music and dance held during the last week of the month at Gayana Samaja and ADA Rangamandira featured great artistes and the rasikas had a bounteous treat of music and dance. The dance programmes presented by the artistes from within and outside Karnataka excelled in all the aspects of classical dance.
The third evening of the five-day dance extravaganza at ADA Rangamandira was a grand affair. It began with a Kathak duet by Amit Kinchi and Shubhi Johari from New Delhi. They packed their 30-minute recital with all the glowing art and techniques of their dance form. The serious lovers of Kathak dance were enthralled by the nuances that surfaced radiantly in their explorations. The Damaru baajat composition had a sumptuous nritta. Besides depicting the attributes of Lord Shiva, his tandava was shown with flowing chakkars, tattkaaras and energetic movements. The coverage of the stage was eye filling. The same zeal continued in the next Sangam (Bagesri) with a sargam prelude. The Darbari tillana was splendid.
Grace and beauty
This was followed by a Chhau dance presentation by Guru Gopal Prasad Dubey and his group. The masked dancers performed with grace and beauty. Chhau is one of the most familiar dance forms prevalent in Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of West Bengal and Orissa. Seraikella Chhau and Purulia Chau is essentially performed by using colourful and expressive masks. Mayurbhanj Chhau is rendered without masks. This dance form is based on martial arts and the gait and movement of various birds and animals. Chhau is basically angikaabhinaya oriented; both vigorous and graceful body language involving varied fluid limb movements. The turns, twists and twirls of the body amazed the onlookers. Its repertoire is inspired by nature, mythology and the culture of the region. The Chhau enjoys a special place from all aspects of dancing including technique, music, rhythm, costumes and masks.
Guru Dubey and his co-dancers opened up a fantastic world of dance. The four sections of Chhau namely Chaali, Ufli, Khel and Bhangima were neatly highlighted. Raatri (night) by Gopal Dubey, Sanjay Karmakar and Pradeep Bosa was all about the features of night. Based on the Raatri Sooktha of the Rig-Veda, the dance depicted all aspects of night - its terrifying, tranquillising and serene sublimity. The greatness of eternal love between man and woman in the form of Krishna and Radha got manifested in the abhinaya of Pradeep Bosa and Pradeep Kabi for Radha Krishna. The tale of the creation of the Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa was unfolded on the basis of Chandrabhaga. The vastness and beauty of the ocean (sagar) was graphically sketched. The haunting notes of the shehnai resounded with the strong bols and thundering drums. It was fine to see the vivacious performance with beautiful masks, attractive costumes and accessories. It gave a distinctive sensation of rhythmic flow, delicacy and lyricism.
The final performance was Kathakali by Guru Sadanam Balakrishna from Trivandrum. The theme Kalyana Sowgandhikam was written by Kottayam Thampuran in the 17th century and was based on the Mahabharatha. It revolved around Bheema and Drowpadi. Bheema promises to get Drowpadi a beautiful flower with a rare fragrance Sowgandhika and goes to fetch the same. In that pursuit he meets his brother Lord Hanuman. Sadanam Balakrishnan as Bheema and Sadanam Bhasi as Drowpadi shone forth with professional elan and artistic skill. The Kathakali vocabulary was vibrant and vivacious. The elaborate costumes and the live music support extended by Sadanam Shivadasan (vocal), Sadanam Divadasan (maddala) and Sadanam Ramakrishnan (Chenta) evoked special interest. Ragas like Shankarabharana, Mohana, Kedaragowla and other ragas were impressive.
The Nadam Ensemble opened with a Tandava stotra with a powerful nritta. The group discipline and the sync between the dancers was a sheer delight, Tulasidas’ Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhajamana had a neat exposition. The detailed technicalities of Kathak were underscored in the elaboration of Dhamar. The recital concluded with a tarana in Ahir Bhairav composed by Samanvitha Sharma. The ensemble comprised young dancers like Smita Srinivasan, Poorna Acharya, Arpita Banerjee, Samanvitha Sharma, Chethana AC, K Murali Mohan and Nandini Mehta.
Veteran journalist Dr R Poornima deserves to be commended for her noteworthy gesture of holding music programmes in the name and memory of her legendary veena maestro L Rajarao. Besides sponsoring and supporting classical music programmes, she has been presenting L Raja Rao Memorial National Award carrying the title of Sangeetha Samrat every year. This year’s award was presented to an acclaimed Chitra Veena (gottuv adya) artiste N Ravikiran by a noted vocalist Radha Vishwanathan at the Mangala Mantapa auditorium, Jayanagar.
The award presentation was followed by a short Chitra Veena recital by the awardee. Ravi is a child prodigy now blossomed into a genius. He is a good singer too. The gottuvadya is a fretless vina that rests on the floor and is played with a sliding ebony block.
Though he is renowned for his masterly proficiency, the concert under review did not seem to be his best one. The recital started with the popular Saveri varna (Sarasuda). Thyagaraja’s Ora joochu in Kannadagowla was enjoyable. There was his usual welcome restrained method in the presentation of Sri Mathrubhutham (Kannada) and the Kannada pada Yaare Rangana. Technical competence heightened the resonance of the detailed rendition of Maa Janaki (Kambhoji). The raga sancharas were distinctly artistic. He concluded with a Kaanada tillana. Akkarai Subbalakshmi (violin), Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma (mridanga) and Guru Prasanna (khanjari) were the lively accompanists.