KOCHI: The sixth edition of Lasyotsavam, a national festival of Indian classical dance and theatre traditions of the Thrissur-based Lasya Akademi, took place recently at the Regional Theatre of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi.
Eminent Mohiniyattam dancer Pallavi Krishnan is the curator of Lasyotsavam. The inaugural day presentation was Rugmangadacharitam kathakali, with kathakali thespian Kalamandalam Gopi in the role of Rugmangada and Pallavi Krishnan, an alumnus of Santiniketan and Kerala Kalamandalam, as Mohini. Pallavi had graduated from Santiniketan with kathakali as the main subject and was performing the dance form after a gap of 25 years. She was trained by Kalamandalam Harinarayanan in the role of Mohini under the guidance of Kalamandalam Gopi.
“Since 1992, after coming to Kerala, I have started watching more kathakali performances though my training from Kerala Kalamandalam was in Mohiniyattam and became an ardent fan of Gopi asan. It is the dream of every kathakali artist to perform with the superstar of the art form at least once in their lifetime. So the idea came up recently during one of our conversations at his home and he encouraged me by arranging Harinarayanan to train and mentally prepare me to perform outside my comfort zone,” says Pallavi.
Gopi, who will shortly turn 80, was sharing the stage in a kathakali performance with a leading dance exponent as heroine for the first time.
The scene by scene powerpoint support explaining the entire act and almost all the hand gestures and expressions was very effective, especially for the audience not exposed to the intricate acting techniques of kathakali.
Thereafter, the main attraction was the Kerala premiere of Nadi - the River, thematic group choreography by acclaimed Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson (former Chairperson of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and National Film Censor Board) and group, underscoring the idea that the river has been a source of life.
The 70-minute choreography explored the love and longing, physical changes and deep philosophy that the river inspired through the centuries-old voices of India’s poets - from Sufi fakirs in the North to Baul singers in Bengal to Sangam poetry and classical composers in the South , an ocean of poetry has been inspired by the river. Prior to this, Kalamandalam Veena Warrier presented a mohiniyattam solo recital.