Pleasing Kathak performances in Mumbai
- Sunil Sunkara

January 29, 2017

A petite whirlwind in Kathak
The Nalanda Nritya Utsav, Mumbai, found a perfect finale on Jan 16, 2017 with Shweta Padwal’s Kathak performance. Her petite frame and simplicity as she walked onto the stage was a stark contrast to the whirlwind performance that ensued. She began with a Shiv Vandana written by Shankaracharya. The lightning quick wrist movements accompanied by statuesque poses depicting various attributes of Shiva was well received by the audience. She then went on to present 7 Matra, and did complete justice to the regal nature of the teevrataal. Her cool and composed persona on stage and command over the taal shone through her presentation. Her precise and determined movements and crisp footwork established her as a truly promising young torch bearer for her Guru Lata Bakalkar.

She was accompanied by Nutan Patwardhan on padhant, Somnath Mishra on vocal, Vivek Mishra on tabla, Alka Gujar on sitar and Himanshu Ginde on flute. She concluded her performance with a thumri - Ghar naahi hamare Shyam - depicting the Proshitpatika nayika. Sung brilliantly by Somnath Mishra, Shweta did justice to the beautiful thumri. Her abhinaya got acclaim from Dr. Kanak Rele and other senior gurus assembled in the audience.

Shweta Padwal

Richa Srivastava

Richa Srivastava at Times Sanskriti Art Festival
Richa Srivastava, senior disciple of Guru Shila Mehta, presented a traditional Kathak solo on Jan 13, 2017 at the Mudra Stage, Times Sanskriti Art Festival, Mumbai. She began her performance with Ardhang, a composition set in raag Yaman, taal Rupak, written and composed by Pt Birju Maharaj. Ardhang depicts the union of tandav and lasya through the imagery of Ardhanareeshwara Shiva. This was followed by taal Teentaal presenting traditional nritta compositions of the Lucknow gharana. Her graceful movements combined with determined fluidity truly brought out the nazaakat of the Lucknow gharana. She was ably accompanied by Somnath Mishra on vocal, Vivek Mishra on tabla and padhant and Sibte Hassan on sitar.

The highlight of the performance was her finale on ‘Draupadi Cheer Haran’ present in gat-bhaav format. She dedicated the performance to all women who have to fight for themselves and protect themselves in today’s times. Her involvement with each character of this infamous episode from the Mahabharata truly brought out her abhinaya capabilities, especially when she depicted Draupadi’s conflicting emotions.

Mukesh Gangani and Kalpana Verma at Virsa Fest

Mukesh Gangani

Kalpana Verma

The Virsa Fest aims at connecting school children with Indian classical arts through the Routes2Roots program. Bringing Kathak to the students of Amulakh Amichand  Bhimji Vividhlakshi  Vidyalaya in Wadala, Mumbai, Kalpana Verma and Mukesh Gangani created among the students,  great excitement for Kathak at the Virsa Fest on 23 Dec 2016.

The performance began with a beautiful Sufi piece, Mohe apne hi rang mei rang de by Kalpana Verma, senior disciple of Pt Birju Maharaj. Kalpana said that dancing for children is akin to dancing for the divine creator himself, hence she began her performance on a sufi note.  This was followed by traditional taal Teentaal by Mukesh Gangani, son and disciple of Guru Praveen Gangani. He presented traditional nritta compositions in Vilambit Teentaal, followed by Ganesh Paran and Jugalbandi which got an encore from the young audience.

The performance concluded with a thumri performed by Kalpana, Bahut din beete, piya naahiaaye. They were accompanied by Shabaaz Khan, Imran Khan and Sangeet Mishra on tabla, vocal and sarangi. This was followed by an interactive session with the students where they learnt the basic footwork and taal structure in Kathak.

Sunil Sunkara is a Kathak dancer with a PhD degree, based in Mumbai.