Spectacular Dance Jathre in Bangalore
- Vijay Shanker
e-mail: vijaydance@gmail.com

November 26, 2015

Shambhavi School of Dance supported by Sangeet Natak Akademi, Ministry of Culture, Government of India and South Zone Cultural Centre and Department of Kannada & Culture, Karnataka, organized the two day festival on 21st and 22nd November at Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath in Bangalore. The fiesta presented workshops, performances, competitions and stalls, creating the typical festive atmosphere, and an ambience where the performing arts merged with nature.

Slide show
Photos: Arvind Shenoy and Ashik Gownder

The evening session commenced with the Desi Nritya wherein young boys and girls danced while playing the drums and sang “jathre namma jathre”, headed by Prabhakar and his troupe of talented performers, a fine musical start to the journey of music and dance. The traditional lamp was lit by MLA Somashekar and the performances started with the Tandava Group of male dancers from Bangalore. The dancers Srinivasa Rajendran, Somashekar, Anantha Narayan and Kartik Datar danced the invocatory Mallari followed by “Shakti Devata” in Gambheernatai. The performance was lively with rhythmic precision revealing their command over the technique of Bharatanatyam.

With her disciples, Kuchipudi dancer Vyjayanti Kashi, who heads the Shambhavi School of Dance enacted the episode of Kanyakumari in Kuchipudi style with commendable abhinaya and graceful movements. Kanyakumari is the secret weapon of Lord Vishnu in order to destroy demon Banasura but she is not aware of her purpose in life and grows on to become a beautiful maiden. Lord Shiva is smitten by her beauty and they decide to get married but on the day of the wedding, Narada plays a trick and the rooster cries and Shiva fails to arrive.  Kanyakumari is shattered and in her agony splashes the mountains with haldi and kumkum turning them yellow and red and grains become sand at her feet. At this point she hears a divine voice that tells about her purpose in life and she ultimately destroys Banasura and her love for Shiva remains eternal. The dancers concluded with a scintillating Thillana.

Pune based Kathak exponent Shama Bhate presented her disciples in a graceful and precise Kathak recital. Besides the Shiva Vandana, the dancers performed the Kaliya Mardana wherein Krishna kills the serpent Kaliya and concluded with the divine Bhajan “Baje Muraliya Baje” sung by the veteran Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.

The second day of the festival inaugurated by Soorya Krishnamurthy, the chairman of Kerala Sangeet Natak Akademi, featured performances by Kutiyattam Kendra (Thrissur), Vaibhav Arekar’s Shankya Dance Company from Mumbai and Manipuri performance by Jagoi Marup group from Imphal.  Vaibhav and his team created a lasting impression with their immaculate and vibrant performance. The varnam incorporated Lord Shiva as Omkara Swarupa and the seven chakras from Yoga abhyasa. The number on Devi known as “Amba Ananda Dayani,” a composition of Dr. Balamurali Krishna portrayed the virile and benevolent facets of the goddess and also as the killer of the demon Mahishasura. Besides the dramatic display of destruction of the demon, the performance was noteworthy for the fine choreography and presentation.

The Kutiyattam performance by Charu Agar and his team portrayed the story of Surpanakha as she tries to woo Rama and Krishna but fails with her nose being cut. The actors rendered a brilliant performance with “netra abhinaya” pertaining to the powerful display of emotions.  Kutiyattam is the oldest theatrical form of Kerala wherein vachika abhinaya is also used and is considered the mother of Kathakali.

The workshops were held by Shama Bhate in Kathak style, Mohiniattam by senior exponent Usha Datar, dance fitness by Lokesh Naik, Konnakkol by Somashekar Jois, Beyond Tradition by Ramya Ramnarayan, contemporary dance by Madhu Nataraj, dance and theatre by Vidhya Subramanian, Kutiyattam by Charu Agar, Bharatanatyam by Vaibha Arekar, Dance Make-up by Ramakrishna, Manipuri by Jagoi Marup and Zumba fitness by Rohit Saud. The students were thrilled and learnt a lot from these personalities pertaining to the varied aspects of performing arts. Usha Datar, disciple of Late Chinnammuama, who conducted the Mohiniattam workshop pointed out how the feet movements have changed and taught the students some basic movements. Shama Bhate in the Kathak style taught the basic movements and the usage of gestures pertaining to Ganapati, Krishna and Shiva. The Kutiyattam workshop demonstrated the basic warming up exercise, eye movements and an episode of Sugreeva was enacted. Vidhya Subramanian vividly demonstrated as to how “angika abhinaya” changes according to the character and emotions. The students participated and showed their interpretations which were quite interesting and encouraging for them. She also demonstrated the expressions and emotional change when the nayika realizes that she has been deceived, as she sees the telltale marks on the Lord.  

The exhibition featured Shivakumar’s rare collection of newspaper clippings of established and young dancers. On the dancer’s wall, brochures of young local talent were displayed. The prize winners from the competitions were given trophies, certificates and cash prizes too.

Vyjayanthi Kashi who organized the entire festival said, “I am an artist, hence I expect perfection in all levels which is difficult to achieve with a team from different fields. People think I am responsible for all mistakes, which makes me feel enough is enough, but when I see splendid performances and the rasikas enjoying it, that drives me to organize the next dancejathre.” Hats off to Vyjayanti Kashi and her entire team of Shambhavi School of Dance.

Vijay Shankar is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.