– the Fiery Tale: Gauri Jog and her group captivate the audience
After the successful production of Queen of Jhansi in 2005, this time Gauri Jog selected a completely innovative topic to show the evolution and importance of fire: Agni an intense element of nature.
The program began with Ganesh Vandana, a traditional prayer to Lord Ganesha who is a prime Hindu deity, God of Knowledge and remover of obstacles. Five girls including Gauri Jog formed various poses of Lord Ganesha and Lord Shiva.
The main program was presented in two parts. The first part of the program was dedicated to the basic steps and form of the classical dance style of Kathak (including toda, tukda, bhajan, thumri and tarana). Kathak is a traditional dance style from North India. Like all other classical dance forms, Kathak is made up of "building blocks." These include steps and hand movements (mudras) that are strung together along with facial expressions (bhava) and graceful gestures to tell a story. Gauri Jog's students showed series of combinations of typical foot movements and hand gestures.
The girls then went on to perform a Thumri. Thumri is a common style of light classical Indian music. The text is romantic and devotional in nature, and usually revolves around a girl's love for Lord Krishna. The dance described the onset of spring and all the joy and colors it brings. Gauri Jog then performed Tarana. Tarana is a vocal style in Indian music that is usually sung in a fast tempo using syllables such as na, ta, re, da, odani, etc, sounds which have their roots in the Pakhawaj drum and Kathak dance repertoire. The emphasis here is on producing rhythmic patterns using the syllables. The resulting music is very appealing and most suitable for Kathak. It is a perfect complement for the intricate footwork and Gauri received a big applause from the audience for her fast spins performed on bare knees.
The cutest lot of 4 to 6 years old girls performed the 'Dance of the Birds.' Kathak is basically a dance form that has foundations in story telling and mime. Set to music, it translates the many moods of nature. Expressing the elements of nature in dance form is an exciting journey both for the performer and the observer. The Dance of the Birds was such an expression. The joy and freedom of expression in this piece was certainly infectious!
The second half of the program was dedicated entirely to an element of nature – fire. The song, Dol Dol Saagar ki Leheren, described the joyous rolling of the ocean waves, beauty and tenderness of a charming spring day and the majestic mountain scenery. The item entitled 'Elements of Nature' was performed based on a shloka (or verse) from the Atharva Veda describing our beautiful earth and the five elements.
The dance drama ended with a fusion between Gauri Jog and Shalakha Kulkarni for the song Krishna Ni Begane Baaro depicting the universal values, religious tolerance and consideration for each other. This last dance left a positive note in the minds of people about our need to unify all human kind.
Gauri Jog has
been teaching Indian classical dancing in Chicago area for the last seven
years. She and her group have performed on numerous occasions at various
social, political and sports events. She is very instrumental in performing
at fund raising activities by various charitable organizations. Gauri Jog
is also a regular visitor dancer to other cities in US collaborating with
various dance schools and other styles of dance. Asked about the future
plans she said she has already started working on her next production that
will feature many new creative things.