- Ashish Mohan
the dusky beauty of Kuchipudi, her handsome husband Vijay and charming
daughter Prateeksha, were the trio that teamed up with several scores of
volunteers to bring to dance-interested Bangaloreans, a two-day feast of
dance delight in the form of many workshops, dance competitions and evening
dance performances, by a wide variety of visitors and stars of the form.
Kashi went a step
further and changed last year’s limiting venue of Chitra Kala Parishad,
to Bangalore’s best outdoor facilities called Freedom Park (former Central
Jail), the bright colours and expanse of which were pleasing to all and
the open spaces, excellently created by the architects Ghoshs, provided
a perfect setting in perfect weather for a near-perfect dance festival.
Park, Banglore's best outdoor venue for all kinds of activity; first time
Kashi has used for dance
Kashi is a
multi-tasker. She also does all this with a smile. Pleasant, poised and
pleasingly inclusive, she did all she could to make the two-day festival,
memorable. Though the stalls were fewer and not many local dancers made
use of the opportunity, still the idea, in its second year now, is great.
Where else in India can you see a stall for a nutritionist selling ideas
for healthy bodies for dancers and next to it are costumes from Gujarat
done by Tripti Bhupen (Guru Rajamani of Udaipur’s student)? Some stalls
selling journals and paintings also looked colourful, while more would
The two days
were choc-a-full with activities from ten am to ten pm! There were 8 workshops
each day by visiting artistes and the first day kicked off with legendary
Kelubabu’s son Ratikant’s workshop and show. Ratikant babu did one item
– Jatayu Moksha, but in that epic piece from the Ramayana, when Jatayu
intercedes with Ravana to get Sita released from his clutches, but in doing
so has his wings clipped and dies in Rama’s arms but not before telling
Rama who has abducted his wife Sita, Ratikant showed he is truly
Kelubabu’s son, artistically. Perhaps, no other student of Kelubabu has
absorbed or imbibed the dance ability for exceptional, even if lokadharmi
abhinaya, as Ratikant has. His generous frame may not be an inspiration
for size-zero dancers but his lightness of being, and foot; his quick-silver
expressions and his exceptional sense of timing, proved why genes help.
Ratikant babu can emerge as the best male dancer of the form in India,
were he to control his frame, although like Bala amma, (or many a heavily
set dancer like Swapnasundari today), the size of body was no limitation
to depth of art. Ratikant was simply the outstanding dancer and delight
of not only the festival but the season.
Next, an over-stated,
self-praiseful Dr. Sandhya Purecha and team, took to the stage. Sandhya
is a dance theorist at best and perhaps that is more suited to her. Her
students seem to have a filmy attitude, approach and mannerisms, because
in typical film fashion, they kept announcing, “Weren’t we great?!”; “That
item was simply marvelous!” They talked down to the audiences, like it
was some school level dance competition. Taking coals to Newcastle (bringing
Bharatanatyam to Bangalore) and forcing the audience, nay, scolding them
not to take videos of their great art - copyrighted no less – meant, even
Bharatamuni would have to take their permission for using his/their own
Natyashastra! A fellow critic joked: What’s there to copy?! What’s new
about bramharis, charis and gati? The items were flimsy, filmy and downright
frugal in content. The moot point is: Why use a classical form, when your
overall appeal is to look contemporary? Why have fig leaf of Bharatanatyam
for excuse and attires? Sandhya Purecha was the weakest dancer/group in
the two day festival.
Mohapatra in Jatayu Moksha, the highlight of the fest
Purecha and group
from Hyderabad was the Barbie-doll component of the festival, appealing
to teenagers with fairy, fluffy, bridal whites and attempts at some dancing.
Dancers coming to this festival ought to be careful what they bring because
reputations are hard to build and easy to lose. The two boys and the girl,
who joined later in the proceedings tried hard to impress. Arunima is an
acolyte of Manjushri Chaki and Ranjabati Sircar, both no more. The theme
was good but its execution far too long. Dancers need editors. They don’t
know when to stop and how much the audiences can take. Especially when
lights went out due to overload, while the audiences politely clapped hinting
thank you, we have seen enough, Arunima did not take the hint and when
the lights came back, carried on.
The Kandyan drummer-dancer
Chintaka Bandara and Devika Rao from UK showcased their prowess and both
coalesced into a fine mesh. While he did not have much variation and his
art shows he is more a teacher than a dancer, Devika delighted with her
perfect control and fine abhinaya in her rendition. Both ended the day
on a high note. All through, Vyjayanthi Kashi and team worked tirelessly
and artistically conducted the day, showing no signs of fatigue. They presented
each artiste with fine tussar angavastrams, embroidered elegantly with
the festival logo - Dance Jathre - tastefully.
Day two started
with Arunima’s workshop after which Vyjayanthi Kashi conducted a Kuchipudi
workshop which had many a people participating. Bangalore being the most
cosmo city of India today, IT geeks, biocon folks, ordinary people – all
assembled to move a leg and learnt basics of each form. Ashim Bandhu from
Kolkata also interested them in basic Kathak while all this cut into the
last speaker’s Prakriti Bhaskar’s time for presenting Mathematics in Dance,
a paper with live demo that showcased how rhythmic units, adavus and all
aspects of a classical dance like Bharatanatyam consists of maths. Her
personality is warm and gentle and the monograph brought out on her guru
is tasteful and aesthetic.
workshop by Vyjayanthi Kashi
Canada based dancer
Lata Pada hosted a grand lunch which got nearly most of Bangalore dance
fraternity out at a central hotel. It was nice to see nearly all dancers
and many gurus - Maya Rao, Lalitha Srinivasan, Radha Sridhar, Pulakesi,
and younger lot of dancers Satya, Madhu, Nandini, Anuradha Vikranth, BP
Sweekruth, Praveen Kumar, among the lunching lot. NRIs Lata Pada and hubby
Harish played perfect hosts and senior dancers Padmaja Suresh, Malathi
Iyengar, inspirational role-model woman and dancer who lost her husband
in Kashmir “war”, Subhashini Vasanth, with smiling kids in tow, all
enjoyed an afternoon of catching up. Bangalore’s climate and genial people
make even the dancers less nasty and a lot nicer to each other! All assembled
to have a nice afternoon.
workshop by Ashim Bandhu
workshop by Ratikant Mohapatra
evening at Kashi Yatra (that’s what Dance Jathre is!) saw the exuberant
folk dancers of Tripti Bhupen doing fine folk dances from Gujarat. They
were spirited and involved. Kandyan dancer Chintaka duplicated as
drummer as an opening offering followed by Sunanda Nair’s wholesome Mohinittam.
It is amazing how much like her guru - Dr. Kanak Rele - she now looks on
stage! Her dance has perfection of positions; a neat execution of stances
and perfect Mohiniattam glances. The entire group proved to be a winsome
next, with her group of well-trained dancers (except an over-enthu
and ever-smiling foreigner, whose basic positions are faulty) showcased
the universe and panchabhutam, bringing the stars from the sky, to earth.
As it is, the setting was so heavenly; out in the open, with a crescent
moon and stars sprinkled across the sky, her dance had an inner joy that
can come only when one is truly involved. Fire, water, air, earth merged
beautifully by use of appropriate coloured chunnis and Kashi had created
a fulsome offering. Group works work better for such open air stages as
it means more students and dancers get a chance to show their dance. Kashi
is not only an able organizer but a good guru and dancer. Need more be
Bhupen's exuberant folk dancers from Gujarat
Doraiswami, Karnataka’s senior-most active Bharatanatyam dancer now, and
its best yoga-dance rep now, showed beauty of form in her group work which
was an ode to the sun. Having also trained in Yoga under no less than Pattabhi
Jois, Vasundhara has worked hard to create this exceptional piece. All
her students were well trained and each sequence won claps from the audiences.
Unfolding like a majestic flower of an orange sun, the hues of her choreography
were detailed and had depth. The sun chariot rolling was an exceptional
piece, as was the whole production. Vasundhara is a deep artiste.
The festival concluded
with Kathak of Ram Gopal Mishra variety by Ashim Bandhu and troupe. All
rather round, they acquitted well and showed good foundation and grounding,
although classical dance being the art of suggestivity, there was little
need to have silly props (swords, paper, lamp). In chamber theatre, an
intimate ambience can be created but in the open, vast stage, it is lost.
Doraiswami and group
Bandhu and troupe
The two day
Dance Jathre was a handsome feast and Kashi & Co stand feted for it.
critic-scholar-historian-editor, Ashish Mohan Khokar takes time off from
travels and writing books, to pen special events which he attends.