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Nazaaqat: A tribute to Guru Damayanti Joshi
- Ankur Ballal

May 23, 2017

Kalaangan, a Mumbai based dance academy founded by Guru Moli Siddharth presented Nazaaqat at Ravindra Natya Mandir's Mini Auditorium in March end to celebrate 25 years of its journey from the city of Agartala in Tripura. This silver jubilee year, Kalaangan has performed in several places in Mumbai, in Kolkata and in the Viaggiatori Festival in Switzerland. It is the only institution that provides in depth training in both Kathak and Rabindra Nritya and offers undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Bangiya Sangeet Parishad and Pracheen Kala Kendra.

Nazaaqat was a tribute to Moli Siddharth's guru Late Damayanti Didi as she was fondly addressed in the introduction about her journey in Kathak. In Nazaaqat, there were guest performers and Guru Ranjana Phadke, Guru Lata Bakalkar, Richa Srivastav and Sunil Sunkara, also paid tribute to Guru Damayanti Joshi through their dances. The show began with an invocation to Lord Ganesha by senior disciples of Kalaangan, followed by Guru Ranjana Phadke's performance and her students dancing Vandana and Hori.

Moli Siddharth

Sunil Sunkara and Richa Srivastav

A beautiful poetry on Guru Damayanti Joshi was rendered by Sunil Sunkara, disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj. The poetry was the highlight of the show and he performed with full devotion and love, capturing the hearts of the audience.

"Adorning the folds of her saree, with the twinkling stars of the midnight
sky, she danced the dance of Menaka

Journeying through changing lands and times, she won the hearts of people
in strange new lands, she danced the dance of Menaka,

As beautiful as the surasundaris who emerged from the churning of the
cosmic ocean, she danced the dance of Menaka,

Adorning the rangamancha with the kaleidoscopic emotions of the
astanaayika, she danced the dance of Menaka,

An epitome of nazaaqat till her last breath, she danced the dance of Menaka,
My naman to that eternal Damayanti, the one who danced the dance of Menaka."

This was followed by Thumri of Bindadin Maharaj's Dagar Chalat with dancer Richa Srivastav, senior disciple of Guru Shila Mehta. Sunil's abhinaya for "Priye Charusheele" from Jayadeva's Geeta Govinda was portrayed well, followed by "Jaage ho kahin rain" with Richa performing khandita nayika and Sunil, dheer udaath nayak. They concluded their performance with Pandit Lacchu Maharaj's Tarana. It was a treat to watch Sunil and Richa performing together, as they share good chemistry.

Students of Kalaangan

Students of Lata Bakalkar

After a mesmerizing performance by the duo, the disciples of Guru Lata Bakalkar enthralled the audience with their strong performances for Shiv Stuti, Ek Taal and Tarana. The Kalaangan group concluded with Tarana and a beautiful composition of Rabindranath Tagore. The disciples of Moli Siddharth were Oindrila Das, Rasika Deshpande, Sucheta Vajpayee, Shaila Kusanale, Diya Paode, Anushka Singh, Shruti Shetty, Prachi Bhayani and Rukmini Sanyal. They were the enchantresses of Nazaaqat.

At last, Guru Moli Siddharth came on stage and took all of us back to the nazaaqats of Guru Damayanti Joshi. The subtle movements of the hands, eyes and body language of Damayanti Didi have been mastered through years of dedicated practice by Moli Siddharth.

Ankur Ballal is an Odissi exponent and student of Guru Jhelum Paranjape in Mumbai.