Mahaskhakti and her various avatars
June 9, 2017
One of the brilliant dance productions seen recently in Bangalore was Mahashakthi choreographed by Dr. Suparna Venkatesh. The dance feature was presented last month in the presence of a large number of dancers and dance lovers.
Using the sahithya from Markandeya Devi Mahathmeyam, Suparna and Mysore B Nagaraj conceptualised the whole production. Suparna used different styles in her choreography though using Bharatanatyam as the predominant style for the dance drama. It brought out the various facets of the Devi - as the supreme goddess, who provides the divine energy to the universe, as the creator of all the gods including the Trimurthis, as one who takes up various roles such as Saraswathi, the goddess of knowledge, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and finally the Mahakali, the destroyer of evil. To give a local flavour, Suparna also took up the story of the bhakti of Akka Mahadevi, and as Ichha Shakti, how she empowers Queen Shantala, and as the Kriya Shakthi, how she is the driving force behind Obavva who fights the Muslim invaders. With captivating music by Praveen D Rao, there was a brilliant colourful mix of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam.
According to Suparna, the production revives the 2500 year tradition "Poorvaranga," the theatre ritual, as an invocatory number. The Mallari was adapted to give the ambiance of the temple ritual music. With elaborate costumes, props and excellent lighting and technical details overseen by her husband Sai Venkatesh, Suparna really pulled off a miracle and kept the audience spellbound till the end.
The dancers included Suparna herself in the role of Mahashakthi and her brilliant daughter Shwetha Venkatesh in a variety of roles and many of her senior disciples. The other dancers were Archana Punyesh, Deepa Pillai, Shamika B, Veena Chandrashekhar, Kavyashree Nagaraj, U Diya, Shreyya, Gowri, Padma, Sanjana, C Soma Shekhar, T S Sharath, A Nishanth and Nidhaga Karunad.
G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.