Kathak dancer Vidha Lal watched the night closely. But it’s not darkness that she saw. She saw light that guided her to a happy place within her core. Then she watched it again another night, and was enchanted in the same measure, untill the glory of the darkness became her muse. It’s now the subject matter of her new dance piece called Nishakanti.
A set of five compositions, representing various expressions of the night, will be performed by her, along with Kathak dancer Abhimanyu Lal. “Every composition tells a different story but the string that joins them is the night. From romance to a mother’s tender love for her baby, the performances use expressional aspects of Kathak to showcase the various moods of darkness,” says Vidha.
In Delhi, she says, people look at night very differently. The moment the sun goes down, they tend to go back to their homes with the belief that bad times lurk the corner. “For me it’s a time to be free. It’s a time of wonderment. I have attempted to bring out the light in the dark, along with the delight it throws up,” she says.
The first performance in the show is titled Padma Kanti, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the one who holds a lotus flower in his hand that blooms at night. Indu Kanti follows this piece, wherein the beauty of the night is woven into shayaris. The third composition is Innocense, where the dancer use a few lines from the poetry of the 16th-century blind Hindu devotional poet and singer, Surdas, showcasing the splendour of motherly love. In the next composition called Abhisar Shringar, the dancers create a world of their own with the figments of love, passion and romance.
The evening culminates with Swapna Kanti wherein the dancer leaps into the world of dreams with a tarana, a style of singing in the Hindustani classical music. “This genre of music has numerous ragas set for each time of the day. Some explicitly beautiful ones are raga bahar, adana, bihag, chandrakauns, and malkauns. We’ve taken strands from these to create this choreography,” says Abhimanyu, who is teaching at the National Institute of Kathak Dance in Delhi. Vidha Lal, on the other hand, is the founder-Director of AV Dance Company Kathak Resonance, and teaches at the Devi Durga Kathak Sansthan.
Both the dancers received training at the National Institute of Kathak in Delhi, from Geetanjali Lal, a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee from the Jaipur Gharana. Both dancers are grade A artists from Doordarshan and empanelled artists of Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
There was a time before they became man and wife, when Kathak was all that connected them. They were often complimented about their skill and stage presence as partners. As they performed together, people marvelled at their chemistry. “When this happened frequently, we started to think, perhaps we should date each other,” says Vidha smiling.
Though they perform together often, they’ve each developed an individul style within the the dance form. While Vidha’s body glorifies the spins, Abhimanyu’s strength lies in his footwork. Together they bring perfection to their dance vocabularly.
Both complete 15 years of marriage this October but Kathak remains their biggest love. February 13, at 7 pm, Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Center, Lodhi Road. Entry is free.