Young dancers' exemplary pursuits
- Dr. S.D. Desai
May 9, 2017
Passionate involvement of three young dancers with classical dance was seen and felt at the performances as part of the World Dance Day celebrations at the J. G. College of Performing Arts on April 30. The dancers who created an air of joyous participation were Rupanshi Kashyap (Kathak) from Kadamb, Bijal Haria (Kuchipudi), director, Parampara Academy, and Revanta Sarabhai (Bharatanatyam) from Darpana Academy.
The idea of the college Principal (in-charge) Bijoy Shivram in organizing such events from time to time is to give its students an exposure to such dancers' dedicated pursuits and accomplishment with their distinctive individual approaches at a young age. In two tiny performances of five minutes each, one a modest jugalbandi, in his varying choreography, right in the beginning, Bharatanatyam and Kathak students demonstrated the promise they hold out.
A dedicated dancer, Rupanshi, who is also a recognized stage actor now, has been fortunate in having Kumudini Lakhia as her dance guru and she fondly keeps picking up, ever since her childhood, gems from the treasure trove the legendary Kathak exponent has opened up to her disciples. With absolute confidence, she remained in control of the stage and regaled the audience with her skill in classical dance. Remaining informal, at times to a fault, she initially did short pieces of Kathak elements and then turned to simple abhinaya of a nayika in search of her lover giving her the slip on the line bana bana dhoondhu-n shaam... expressively rendered by a young vocalist Vanaraj Shastri with Bhagirath's support on the sitar. Her rhythmic samvaad with Joby Joy's beats on the tabla was delightful and drew applause.
After having had a good foundation from Smita Shastri, Bijal has continued her quest for knowledge. A research scholar and a teacher, she has done her Master's and is being guided now for a doctoral degree by Sandhya Purecha (Mumbai). For finer touches to her Kuchipudi performances she remains in touch with Guru Raja Reddy (Hyderabad). Choreographed by Smita Shastri, the Mandodari Shabdam she did, attired burnished red, in traditional Kuchipudi, stood out with expressive mudras, controlled footwork, lithe movement and an engaging drama its sung dialogue highlighted. With a fresh flavour of vocal rendition in Pt Ravishankar's music and good abhinaya portraying the sculpted nayika coming to life and interacting with the natural surrounding, the Tarana, choreographed by Raja Reddy, was delectable.
Brought up and trained in traditional Bharatanatyam, Revanta has evolved into a thinking modern dancer-choreographer having an appeal worldwide as an accomplished handsome solo dancer. He takes a leap forward in the practice of classical dance by performing a varnam and a padam, both written and composed with his mother Mallika Sarabhai adhering to their traditional structure. In the varnam, he expresses bewilderment to Lord Nataraja at having to be in turmoil in an 'alien land' completing travelling formalities. Intermittently, he keeps demonstrating his prowess in the strictly classical style. 'Show me the way, Nataraja!' he prays in conclusion. In the padam, working on modern gadgets he is seen getting no response from his genuinely busy beloved. He prays here to Lord Krishna now to help her find time for him. His prayer is answered!
Dr. S.D. Desai, a professor of English, has been a Performing Arts Critic for many years. Among the dance journals he has contributed to are Narthaki, Sruti, Nartanam and Attendance. His books have been published by Gujarat Sahitya Academy, Oxford University Press and Rupa. After 30 years with a national English daily, he is now a freelance art writer.