Dancers paint rainbow of performances
The annual Konark festival hosted by Odisha Tourism holds a special place in the heart of art connoisseurs and performing artistes all over the globe. This year’s fete, the five-day event mounted at the open air auditorium in the backdrop of Konark temple, featured Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kathak, Kuchipudi. While Odissi was a common feature, the festival saw the vigour and grandeur of all the classical dance forms every evening.
Rani Karnaa’s dance academy, Samskritiki Shreyaskar of Kolkata, treated the rasika’s of Odisha to a rich assortment of Kathak dances on the concluding evening on Thursday.
Their performance was followed by a dance drama titled ‘Ekamra Leela’ presented by dancers of Guru Kelucharan Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneswar. The item was adapted from ‘Shivaleelamritam’, a Sanskrit Kavya by poet Agnichit Nityananda Pandit of 18th century.
Hyderabad-based Kuchipudi exponent Alekshya Punjala and her troupe presented a choreography based on the prayer invoking Goddess Saraswati, Goddess Laxmi and Devi Mahakali on the fourth day. Her dance was followed by Ileana Citaristi and her disciples of Art Vision who enthralled all by presenting ‘Shivastaka’ followed by ‘Kala’, a unique choreography based on time. They showed the creative and the destructive force of time, that controls the universe.
The third evening of the festival was opened by Odissi dancer Aloka Kanungo and her troupe from Shinjan-Nrutyalaya, Kolkata, to present ‘Sthapatya Satya’ one of her unique compositions depicting the performing arts such as ‘Chitra’, ‘Kavya’, ‘Nritya’ and ‘Geeta’. The choreography was a fusion of the age-old ‘Bandha Nrutya’ and the refined Odissi dance. The dancers were at their best with their highly acrobatic and yogic postures.
The next form of dance for the evening was Manipuri dance by Singhjit Singh and troupe from ‘Manipur Nrityashram’. Guru Singh presented ‘Vasant Rasa’ based on the immortal love between Radha and Lord Krishna which was followed by ‘Pung Cholom’, a form of Manipuri drum dance where the performers played the ‘Pung’ or drum while dancing with graceful vigour.
Pung Cholom is performed as an invocatory number preceding the ‘Sankirtana’ and ‘Ras Lila’. Then ‘Shringar Bhakti’ depicting the intimate relation between ‘Gopis’ and Lord Krisha was artistically presented. The concluding item was ‘Nagar Kirtan’.
Sadanam Balakrishnan, Pallavi Balakrishnan and their troupe from Kerala enacted ‘Radha Madhavam’, a unique choreography in Kathakali and Mohiniattam tradition depicted the longing of Radha and Lord Krishna for each other.
The performance was followed by Odissi by artistes of Guru Bichitrananda Swain’s Rudrakshya Foundation. They began with ‘Magalacharan’ invoking Lord Krishna and then presented ‘Tala Madhurya’, where they showed the rhythmic beats of Mardala in dance form. The dancers concluded the evening with ‘Astapadi’ depicting Radha’s emotions after having visualised Lord Krishna’s love with Chandrabali and ‘Nirvan Shatakam’ which dealt with an enquiry into self.
On the first day, Chennai’s Bharatanatyam dancer Anita Guha’s troupe stole the show. They presented three of her choreographic compositions that included ‘Ardhanariswaram’ depicting the synthesis of masculine and feminine energy. Her dancers also presented a very popular composition of Maharaja Swathi Thirunal’s Bhavayami Raghuramam set to ‘Varnam’ format in Raga Malika and Roopaka Thalam. Their programme ended with Thillana in Ragam Kafi on the composition of PR Venkatsubrmaniam.
What came in for criticism was the opening performance by Purnashree Rout, Lucky Prajna Mohanty and their troupe from Raipur, Chhattisgarh. While their presentation lacked elegance, the selection of costumes also drew flak.
The troupe began with ‘Ardhanareswar’, which is based on the spiritual union of man and woman and then went on to depict the age-old timeless devotional poem written for Lord Jagannath by Salabega, ‘Ahe Nila Saila’.
Then the artistes staged a few episodes from Ramayan that included Sita’s marriage to Ram, their exile in forest and abduction of Sita. But the depiction was disappointing for a prestigious event like the Konark festival.