Kanak Rele’s stunning performance at Shrishti Festival
- Vijay Shanker
e-mail: vijaydance@gmail.com  

May 18, 2017

Shrishti Centre of Performing Arts and Institute of Dance Therapy (Bangalore) organised a nine day festival of dance, drama and music that commenced on 29th April and concluded on 7th May. The festival was inaugurated at Samsa open air theatre of Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bangalore, with dance invocation by Ramya Sastry.

Shrishti Centre that will be completing its golden jubilee next year has been established by Dr. A.V. Satyanarayana, a pioneer in dance therapy. He has been organizing the World Dance Day festival since 2007 and also gives the Shrishti National Award to veterans in the field of dance and music. This year the award went to renowned Mohiniattam exponent and dance educationist Dr. Kanak Rele.

After receiving the award, Kanak Rele and her disciples Madhuri Deshmukh and Saji Menon performed select items from the Mohiniattam repertoire. Kanak Rele performed ‘Kubja,’ the woman with a hunch back who serves as a slave to the wicked king Kamsa. Kanak Rele narrated as to how she was drawn to the theme from the writing of Gyanpeeth awardee Dr. Sitakant Mohapatra which was recreated into poetic format suitable for the Mohiniattam rendering by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. Providing social relevance to the character of Kubja, it is not just a physical deformity but a burden which most women bear towards their sufferings and tribulations, inflicted due to the patriarchal society. The same also pertains to the character of Gandhari who was cheated in marriage. The portrayal pertaining to the physical and mental torture of both Kubja and Gandhari was enacted with commendable abhinaya leaving the audience wonder struck. Unfortunately, the audience was rather sparse probably due to inadequate publicity. While Madhuri enacted Draupadi, Saji enacted the character of Amba with complete involvement and dexterity.

Dr. Satyanarayana, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Dr. Kanak Rele

Laxminarayan Jena

It is creditable on the part of Dr. Satyanarayana to organize a festival of such magnitude wherein several performers from various parts of the country performed. Trying to present a larger perspective pertaining to the life sketch (charitram) of the enlightened soul Buddha, Satyanarayana’s one man show of Maha Buddha, unfortunately failed to create the desired impact.

Laxminarayan Jena, disciple of Mysore Nagaraj, rendered a scintillating performance of Ananda Tandavam which had elements of both Kathak and Bharatanatyam. Blessed with a striking personality, Laxminarayan was precise and his lively quality left a lasting impression on the audience. Another male dancer who created a fine impression was Souvik Ghoshal, disciple of Kuchipudi exponent Dr. Saraswati Rajathesh. His rendering of “Ananda tandavam aadi” was noteworthy for its sincerity and involvement. Dancers Amit Das from Kolkata, Dimpy Bashya and Shaqheed Alam also participated in the festival.

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