Gauri Diwakar
Spring in their steps
- Shveta Arora
Pics: Anoop Arora

May 14, 2015

The temperature in Delhi now is making us all long for the balmy freshness of the recent spring. The freshness of that season was recently brought alive by Kathak dancer Gauri Diwakar, who presented Sarve Nava, a spring-themed production, on the second day of the Spring Festival hosted by IIC. The collection of compositions brought the beauty of spring to life where all is young and new.

Gauri is trained under Sumita Chowdhary, Pt. Birju Maharaj and Jaikishan Maharaj. She perfected her skills under Aditi Mangaldas. Her first presentation imbued with meticulous nritya was on a shloka from Ritusamhara, about how spring or vasant affects every aspect of life - charutaram vasante - with flowers blossoming, maidens wearing their ornaments, bees humming over flowers, trees laden with blossoms, air laden with perfume and water abounding with lilies. Even the evenings (pradosha kaal) are pleasant.

The next piece was a nritta in taal Vasant. Gauri presented tatkaar, tihai, thaat, aamad, pairon ki uthaan, paran and parmelu. Her attitude and flair were flawless and the footwork excellent. During the presentation, there were interludes by pakhawaj, tabla and then a jugalbandi of both in nine maatras that had the audience in raptures.

Bulle Shah’s Sufi composition Hori khelungi kehkar bismillah describes the ecstatic mood of the bhakta when drenched in the colours of bhakti. Using Vasant taal, Gauri maintained the pace of the piece using gat and footwork. The abhinaya piece for a poem by Suryakant Tripathi Nirala was choreographed by her guru Aditi Mangaldas. Talking about the piece, Gauri said, “Since the title for the performance was ‘Sarve Nava’, I wanted to do something new. The text was sourced by Sanjay Nandan. All poetry cannot be put to music. But for this, Samiullah Khan composed appropriate music. The lyrics are erotic, describing the romance between the heroine and her lover, but Aditi didi choreographed it so well with subtle gestures that I was not embarrassed to do it, neither was the audience put to any discomfort watching it.”Naino ke dore gulal bhare (eyes red with red colour) – the poetry is aesthetically sensuous, describing the heroine and her lover playing Holi. They have spent the night awake in bed, making love in dim light. The poetry describes them kissing. In the tight embrace, she feels the tightening of her choli (blouse). The abhinaya she did sitting down suggested the eroticism of the poetry while still not making it too in-the-face. It was a combination of Aditi’s choreography and Gauri’s graceful execution that made the piece stand out. The accompanists, Yogesh Gangani on the tabla and Mahavir Gangani on pakhavaj, were matchless as always. Excellent vocals and music were by Samiullah Khan.

Urmila Satyanarayanan

The other performer for the evening was Chennai based Bharatanatyam dancer Urmila Satyanarayanan who has trained under gurus Dandayudhapani Pillai, KJ Sarasa and Kalanidhi Narayanan. She started her performance with a pushpanjali and verses in praise of Lord Ganesha, whose attributes like his elephant ears and ‘sutra’ on his shoulders, she demonstrated through various mudras. He is the son of Maheshwara and is worshipped as ‘vighnaharta’ – the one who removes all obstacles.

The varnam in ragamalika was composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. Urmila has a slender frame, graceful dance moves and stances, and she covers the stage with ease. The piece titled Navarasa depicts how the nine rasas are embodied in the goddess Meenakshi. She fights the demons in warfare with valour - veera rasa. She is attracted to Shiva as Sundareshwar- shringar rasa. She gazes with astonishment as Shiva drinks the poison –adbhuta rasa. She embodies the hasya rasa when she plays with her friends and when she is consumed with disgust at the demons – bheebatsa rasa. She feels anger at her father, who degrades her – raudra rasa. She feels fear – bhayanaka rasa. When she thinks of her devotees, she displays karuna and shanta rasa. Urmila’s good footwork, sharp hand movements and excellent abhinaya added to the beauty of the piece.

Shveta Arora is a blogger based in Delhi. She writes about cultural events in the capital.