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Angels and peacocks in human avatar
- Chittaranjan Mothikhane

June 7, 2017

Articulate Festival in Mysore city is held every 3rd Sunday of the month. Its 12th edition was a mixed bag of Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Odissi. Both the artists and the audience were not deterred by the threat of the summer rains.

Sheethal Hemanth's kouthvam on Ganesha weaved through different gathi was the spring board of her performance. It set the right tone as an invocatory number performed to adi tala. D S Srivathsa's composition reflected his command over music and intricacies of dance. She chose, for her second act, the popular item these days of many Bharatanatyam artists, Revathi raga based Tanjavur Shankara Iyer's "Mahadeva Shiva Shambho." When one is made to see many editions of the composition, it is inevitable to make comparisons, and yet Sheethal could hold the attention of the audience with her interpolation of nritta and nritya while extolling Lord Nataraja. Chittoor Subramanya Pillai's Ananda Bhairavi composition "Mathura Nagarilo" showcased her skill in abhinaya. Sheethal closed her short concert, to let set in the mind, the grace of Devi through Muthuswami Deekshitar's (Kamalamanohari, adi) eulogy "Kanjadalayatakshi Kamakshi."

Sheethal Hemanth

Kshamitha Shastry

After watching heavy feet stamping on the floor, the swift nimble feet of Kathak dancers are akin to gentle rain after a thunder. So was Kshamitha Shastry's Kathak. Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur wrote several verses as obeisance to Ganesha and Saraswathy. Presenting one of his poetry "Ganapathy Moorath" was her way to show the Islamic patronage to a Hindu art. Ibrahim's perspective of looking at Ganesha and Saraswathy in nature was well translated in the Kathak form. A Bindadin thumri "Kahe rokata dagar pyare" in dadra taal exuded bhaav through abhinaya in very subtle ways keeping with the lok dharmi aspect of emoting in Kathak. The waylaying of a gopi by Gopala, the discomforts caused by his teasing, pleasurefully endured was well portrayed. Kshamitha concluded with a Tarana in raag Jhinjhooti. Though set to teen taal, she meandered through different jaatis within the frame of 16 beats. Interspersed with Gath Nikas and finishing with scintillating footwork, echoing the syllables played by the percussion, to watch Kshamitha Shastry was a delight.

Kohal Das, in his two acts in Odissi, moved across the stage like a deer born in the spring, giving an impression that the stage needed to be a lot bigger than what it was, a show of putting adrenal rush to best use through classical dance. With seemingly inexhaustible energy, Kohal showed masculinity in the otherwise sensuality that rules Odissi dance, proving that dance today is not a prerogative of women. The bhangis, the charis, the assorted bramharis that was weaved as warp and weft in the choreography of Ratikant Mohapatra and Madhulita Mohapatra, Kohal seemed effortlessly to glide on the fabric of the rich dance tapestry. The virile movement depicting dance of Shiva, in the ragamalika-talamalika composition "Jaya Mahesha" was a beautiful contrast to the sprightly effervescent motion describing nature through words of Valmiki in the 'Varsha' kept the onlooker spellbound. Kohal put to shame the real peacocks when he danced impersonating the bird in all its romantic mating ritual on the onset of the rains. It was a performance to be remembered.

Kohal Das

Sonalika & Shrinika Purohith

Talking of sensuality in Odissi, I would like to reword it as grace, after Sonalika Purohith came on stage. She chose a befitting repertoire to invoke the presiding goddess of Mysore city, Durga. Her 'Naba Durga' in raga Bhairavi and taal jati portrayed the feminine and the fierce aspect of the Mother, benevolent towards her devotees and malevolent towards the evil doers. The lasya and lalithya is best seen in the Pallavi among all the familiar repertoire of the art form. As rightly said, like a creeper the composition grows in pace and complexity was aptly executed by Sonalika Purohith. The titivation to her presentation was by Shrinika Purohith, her seven year old daughter who matched her every step, mirrored her every move, gilded her every stance, prettified her every pose, one could go on and on to praise the little angel who enhanced the dance presentation of her mother. The pallavi presented was in raag Basant and in taal ek taali. The concluding signature dance was the Moksha. The pure dance of ecstasy that liberates both the dancer and the onlooker was strikingly performed with a spiritual feel that gave a grand conclusion to the festival. Guru Mysore B Nagaraj knit the acts with the silver thread of his articulate narrative that was as good to listen to as it was good to watch the dances.