Samskriti Festival at Aurangabad
- Shalaka Deshpande

May 12, 2013

Organized each year by Devmudraa to celebrate World Dance Day, Samskriti, entering into its 4th edition this year, was very well received by the dance connoisseurs of Aurangabad. The festival was held for 2 days on April 28 and 29 giving the rasikas a double treat. It was inaugurated by eminent Kuchipudi guru and scholar Dr. Rajyalakshmi Seth followed by a Kuchipudi performance by her disciple V Soumyasree, who displayed perfect technique combined with excellent bhavas.

V Soumyasree

Madhuri Deshmukh

Darshana Jhaveri and Latasana Devi

This was followed by Mohiniattam by Madhuri Deshmukh from Mumbai, disciple of Dr. Kanak Rele. It is Vasant Ritu, and nature is at her best. At such a time a lover leaves his beloved to go away. Madhuri brought out the pain of separation experienced by the beloved through her dance. Next was an exhilarating performance by Darshana Jhaveri and her disciple Latasana Devi. Their repertoire for the evening included Anangangakshep, one of the 32 divisions of the vipralambha shringar, Shukasaridwanda in which Shukha, the male parrot and Sari, the female parrot are in a lover’s quarrel, and Telana, an equivalent to Tillana. What can one write about such a performance, suffice to say that even at an age when most artistes retire, Darshana Jhaveri continues to amaze us with her dance.

Day one of the festival concluded with ‘Vithal Tukyacha,’ a dance drama presentation in Bharatanatyam based on the life and times of Saint Tukaram. Performed to live Warkari Bhajan Sampradaya (devotional singing tradition) based on the abhangs of the great saint himself, this was choreographed by Soumyasree. The live music and drama put the audience in a devotional mood and had everyone chanting “Pandurang Vithal, Pandurang Vithal.”

Vithal Tukyacha

Three Earths

Day two of the festival saw dance schools across Aurangabad sending their best to showcase their talents at the festival. Dhyas Performing Arts Foundation, Kalavardini Charitable Trust and Mata Nirmaladevi Nritya Sanstha were some of the schools that participated. Soumyasree has indeed started a good trend in which all the schools can see and learn from one another. Sagarika Roy, a talented and upcoming artiste from Kolkata, gave a Bharatanatyam presentation which was noted for its crisp footwork and good technique.

The festival concluded with ‘Three Earths,’ a dance theatre presentation based on women. A theme which is extremely relevant for all times, it showed how women have been exploited down the ages. Right from Draupadi to the practice of drowning baby girls in milk, it showed that even though we call ourselves a civilized nation, not much has changed for women.  A thought inducing and spine chilling performance by Soumyasree and her disciples brought back the focus to the fact that even though we worship the mother goddess, women in this country of any age are not respected and are not safe.

In organizing a festival of such a scale, V Soumyasree, director of movement school Devmudraa, has indeed taken on a herculean task, but her belief in promoting the cause of Indian classical dances helps her keep going. The winners in this are the rasikas of Aurangabad who get to see different dance styles by eminent dancers year after year.