Tales of the Bull and the Tiger: Ananda Shankar Jayant steps up

This is the 26th production from Shankarananda Kalakshetra, which in its four-decades history has created and presented 25 dance productions.
Ananda Shankar Jayant. (Photo | EPS)
Ananda Shankar Jayant. (Photo | EPS)

HYDERABAD: This Saturday (Aug 4) will see a dance presentation which has aroused much interest and anticipation. Naturally. The artiste is Ananda Shankar Jayant, Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi exponent who has built an excellent reputation as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Also, the production comes from the much-respected Shankarananda Kalakshetra, an institution, of which she is the founder-director. This institution is dedicated to the cause of the performing arts in general, and classical dance in particular. 

The title of the production too is intriguing: ‘Tales of the Bull and the Tiger.’ It piques the dance-lover’s interest. This is the 26th production from Shankarananda Kalakshetra, which in its four-decades history has created and presented 25 dance productions which constitute an artistic body of work drawing from subjects as diverse as Indian mythology, poetry, abstraction, historical chronicles, philosophy, women’s studies and humour. What is this latest production all about? Will it be a presentation in Kuchipudi or Bharatanatyam or have elements of both? What are the different facets she will explore through this production?

What was the inspiration? 

We decided to ask the dancer who is currently very busy putting final touches to the production: “I am running around doing last-minute artistic and administrative chores. And of course, the rigorous practice and rehearsals,” she says. 

She is willing to divulge a little, just a little, of what we can expect to see  in Tales of the Bull and the Tiger: “It’s a classical-dance production largely in Bharatanatyam style but there will also be a sprinkling of Kuchipudi elements. This is about traditional stories we have  all grown up with. They are told by someone unexpected. It is an approximately 90-minute production. Without a break or interval! It will have a cast of 23 dancers of which there are three male dancers. The ensemble includes  guest artistes such as Mithun Shyam from Bangalore and the performing repertory of Shankarananda Kalakshetra.”

Ananda will be the lead dancer. The musical soundscape  is by Satthiraju Venumadhav and I.V. Renuka Prasad.  The costumes are by Ganesh Nallari. Light-design is by Gyandev Singh. Eminent dancer Chitra Visweswaran will be the guest of honour and K.V. Ramanachari will be the chief guest. Ananda reminiscences about her long and successful journey: “I founded the Shankarananda Kalakshetra in 1979 as a young teenager after my return from Kalakshetra, Chennai.

We are now stepping into our 40th year. Our first production was in 1986. These include Sri Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum, Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Jonathan Livingston Seagull (set to jazz music), What About Me (on gender), Navarasa, Panchatantra, etc. These productions belong to a wide spectrum and include both traditional and contemporary themes and genres of presentation.”  

Shankarananda Kalakshetra, also has to his credit a pioneering effort---the Natyarambha – a first of its kind Bharanatyam practice app, created in 2017, that is now used by students and teachers around the world. Ananda explains that this is a subscription based application. It helps recreate a classroom scenario. It helps a person practise the Bharatanatyam basics and through this the grammar and techniques get polished. It has a video option and is an interactive app, she adds. She signs off saying: “I am really looking forward to the presentation. We have worked really hard. Years of practice and research have gone into it. I hope the audience and artistes will journey together as the production unfolds.

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