Sankalpa 2016 by Nrittyoday
- Nita Vidyarthi
Photos courtesy: Nrittyoday

August 10, 2016

The fourth edition of ‘Sankalpa’ by Nrittyoday at Gyan Manch, Kolkata was a celebration of dance in the style of the great Uday Shankar.  Both seniors and juniors of Nrittyoday including the institution’s director, dancer Bidhan Roy Chowdhury with its coordinator Pradyumna Mukherjee delighted the audience with choreographic items guided by Bidhan and set to popular songs and music by well-known singers. In keeping with its tradition of  composing dances set to popular Bangla adhunik (modern) songs, Bidhan has kept in mind the abilities of his students. Hence numbers for children have interesting, simple, easily negotiable steps illustrating the lyrics. Trained by Mamata Shankar in the Uday Shankar style and by Anita Mallick in Bharatanatyam, it is apparent that Bidhan’s choreography for most of the numbers had the physical vocabulary of both.

The grace of Shiva and his boundless power were effectively conveyed in the opening Shiva  Panchakshara Stotram “Nagendraharaya” by Bidhan in an electrifying Bharatanatyam idiom. Bidhan exploited fully the grandeur of the slokas with confident ease, replete with the technical virtuosity and poise of a mature dancer. His height and taut body line was an advantage for this number. While giving importance to “parampara”, the next item was a well-rehearsed group Bharatanatyam nritta by juniors in raga-talamalika. That Bidhan has a way with children was evident in Bangla modern song numbers like “Ayere aye” sung by Mononmay Bhattacharya, “Pahar Mati Chup” sung by Rupankar and “Gaalphuluni khukumoni” (sulking girl) by Lopamudra Mitra. He even incorporated crawling and running steps blending them smoothly in the choreography which the little girls performed playfully with rhythm. What was striking in these presentations was the discipline and neatness displayed by the learners.

Tagore’s “Megh bolechhey jabo jabo,” a common monsoon song of the Prakriti (nature) section sung by Sunidhi Chauhan and Soumyajit was given a romantic slant by interpreting it with shringar rasa with the help of the nayak searching for his nayika. Sharp lines, clarity of   movements, coordination and youthful exuberance brought out the freshness of the composition, competently conveyed by the seniors, including Pradyumna and Bidhan by utilising the two level stage. Lights and beautiful costumes made the number visually delightful. Equally entertaining was the Rajasthani folk number “Khunsuti” by the seniors set to the music of Ananda Shankar. The rhythmic delight and the dazzling costumes in blue and pink, were the high point of this folk number, again by the seniors. Movements in “Surja rangeen” sung by Anupam Roy had the stamp of Uday Shankar’s vocabulary. Particularly noticeable was the costume in orange-red and white in keeping with the colour of the rising sun. “Realisation” with Bickram Ghosh and Indradeep Mukherjee were colourful numbers with once again, well designed costumes and lights with controlled smoke pumping making them an experience of visual pleasure. But the show stealer was “Basanta eshe gechhe” the chartbuster sung by Lagnojeeta. Bidhan took care in choosing the muted green and deep red costumes with red flowers decorating the buns of the female dancers. The number was greeted with applause (enhanced due to  the popularity of the song) while the gestures, swaying moves, use of space and facial expressions etched out each word of the song.
Nrittyoday must be lauded for stretching out to a social cause and accommodating the performances of Tagore’s Jonaki and the dance set to “Mamochitte” by the girls of the Hope Foundation in their annual Sankalpa.

Sankalpa always concludes on a spiritual, meaningful and philosophical vein and this time it was “Maha Mrityunjay Mantra” and “Asato ma sadgamaya.” All the dancers in dazzling white walked to the stage through the aisles with subtle graceful movements and gathered to  a semicircular formation to conclude the presentation. The choreography, direction costumes and music editing was by Bidhan Roy Chowdhury and the lights were by Ashoke and Tapan Adhikary. Madhumita Basu conducted the programme ably.

Dr. Nita Vidyarthi is a veteran critic of performing arts and writes on dance, music and theatre in leading publications.