Dance with Me
Tales from the Bull and the Tiger was the 26th production from Shankarananda Kalakshetra which showcased the artiste’s skills
HYDERABAD: The packed audience of art connoisseurs and patrons for the presentation Tales from the Bull and the Tiger was a testimony to Ananda Shankar Jayant’s reputation as dancer, teacher and choreographer.
The fact that this dance production had already been staged once in the city (August 2018) did not impact the numbers of viewers in any way. In fact, going by the houseful crowd it only seemed to have whetted interest among dance-lovers because word had gotten around of the superb premiere. Tales from the Bull and the Tiger was the 26th production from Shankarananda Kalakshetra founded and run by acclaimed classical dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant. The Padmashree awardee is Artistic Director of the institute.
A creative, aesthetic and technically impressive production, Tales from the Bull and Tiger explored the legends of Shiva and Parvathi through a focus on their vahanas. Interwoven with this were stories of their two sons Ganesha and Subrahmanya, and yes, their vehicles too, the peacock and mouse but especially the latter, namely Mushika.
The Bharatanatyam presentation had a sprinkling of Kuchipudi moves and some of the costumes too recalled the latter genre’s aaharyam. The sahityam drew from several sources–well-known stotrams including compositions of Adi Shankaracharya and the Lalitha Sahasranamam; the Thiruppugazh; Thevaram; and krithis by well-known Karnatik-music composers like Muththaih Bhagavathar (composition, Ganesha Skanda Janani) and Dayananda Saraswati’s Bho Shambho for example. All of these were set to a wide range of appropriately chosen ragas–Shanmukhapriya for the entry of the peacocks and Subramanya, Kalyani for the Shiva-Parvathi wedding, Arabhi, and so on.
Opening with the famous first shloka of the first canto of Kalidasa’s epic Raghuvamsham, Vagarthaviva Samprukthau, which invoke and praise Shiva and Parvathi as the celestial couple and parents of the world, the production got off to a rousing start. The opening of the event had was a sombre note too. Before the start, a tribute was paid to recently deceased, noted Karnatik classical musician Satthiraju Venumadhav, who had been an integral part of Shankarananda Kalakshetra for many years, as both composer and vocalist. In fact, it was his recorded vocals which provided a melodious backdrop to the presentation.
The entire production was impressive but among the scenes that stood out were the arrival of Mushika, the dance of the peacocks, the Shiva-Parvathi wedding, Nataraja’s cosmic dance, the duel between Vishnu and Brahma to measure the form of Shiva which of course ends in vain as he (Shiva) is an immeasurable and infinite Akashalinga form, and Parvathi’s joyous dance with her two sons to the strains of Ganesha Skanda Janani. The depiction of the chakras and Kundalini, visuals of the Himalayas, and the presentation of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, space and mind all to the accompaniment of aptly selected shlokas and mantras and with the aid of graphics and special lighting were imaginative and interesting.
The concept was by Ananda and the choreography, too, was by her with some assistance from her senior students who showcased their talent and skills.