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Rasasvada: Disciples do their gurus proud
- G. Ulaganathan
Photos: Shandilya Srivatsa

October 26, 2017

Rasasvada was an interesting evening of dance organised by Odissi exponent Madhulita Mohapatra's Nrityantar in Bangalore. There were three group performances in three different styles - Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Kathak.

The first to go on stage was the group from Bharatanjali, the brilliant students of the eminent Guru B. Bhanumathi. They began with their first presentation titled 'Roots.' Set to music composed by the eminent vidwan Anoor Anantakrishna Sharma, the piece showcased Sarva Deva namaskaram wherein all the gods and deities are paid obeisance. Using the pure nritta elements, the dancers presented RAP (a sloka rendered with a beautiful blend of folk and classical music). Next came a Tulsidas composition, Sri Ramachandra Kripalu Bhajamana, a prayer written in the 16th century. The highlight of the presentation was the depiction of important events in Lord Rama's life through tableaus.

Thanjavur Shankara Iyer's composition Mahadeva Shiva Shambho in Revathi raga was an interesting item and in this song, Shiva is portrayed as the benevolent one, the one whose radiance equals a thousand crore Manmathas. The dancers' exquisite movements were attractive and this piece was interspersed with Natesha kavutvam. Verses from the Taittiriya Upanishad, Rudranamavali were also incorporated. Then the dancers wove intricate nritta sequences in the final item Kalinga Nartana, composed by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer. Child Krishna's celestial dance was interspersed with many rhythmic words and intricate nritta sequences. Bhanumathi's students are really the chip off the old block and while sticking to tradition they also expand the boundaries to give an aesthetic appeal.


Nrityantar Dance Ensemble

The Nrityantar Dance Ensemble, which took the stage next, did its guru Madhulita Mohapatra, who was away in the UK, proud. The pretty young dancers started with the panchabhuta, a tribute to the five classical elements, the five constituents that make up the universe (Prithvi - earth, Jal - water, Agni - fire, Vayu - air, and Akash - sky). The lyric goes on to explain that Prithvi or the Mother Earth, nurtures all living beings from the beginning of time; Jal, or water, is the source of life and the purifier of human action; Agni or fire, born from the ancient Vedas, represents knowledge and is the vanquisher of ignorance; Vayu, the invisible but ever present air which continually breathes life into the cosmos, and Akash, the sky which stretches beyond all limits and conveys divine vibrations from the cosmos to Earth. Music for this exquisite piece was composed by Ramhari Das and the choreography was by Aruna Mohanty.

Then the dancers went on to present a pallavi, the pure dance in which they displayed wonderful coordination and graceful movements. The piece de resistance of the evening was the Madhurashtakam, the traditional Sanskrit composition glorifying the beauty of Lord Krishna. The sensuous song captures the beauty of Krishna's lips, face, eyes and smile. The poet Vallabhacharya goes on to say that even the dust particles under his feet are beautiful. There were a few interesting episodes from Krishna's life interspersed throughout the dance. The dancers, by their graceful movements and sculpturesque poses, did full justice to Guru Pankaj Charan Das' choreography.

Nadam Dance Ensemble

Nadam Dance Ensemble, the Kathak team trained by the well known gurus Nandini K Mehta and K Murali Mohan is a very popular group in Bangalore. They began their recital with the traditional Ganesha Stuthi, the bhajan Gayiye Ganapathi Jaga Vandana and went on to dance and celebrate the Basant season and the festival of colour and joy. It describes the chirping of the birds, perched on each branch, the music emanating from the flute and drums complimenting the spring. The dancers were attractively dressed and the colour of the costume reflected the joyous mood.

In the thumri, Mohe chedo na, the heroine pleads with Lord Krishna to stop bothering her. She says, "Don't stop me in the middle of the road and harass me by breaking my pot. Because of your pranks, I got drenched. People looked at me and gossiped. You embarrass me by embracing me in front of everyone. I will fall at your feet, I plead to you, Lord Krishna, allow me to go home." The piece was brilliant, a combination of mime and pure dance at a leisurely pace, with excellent choreography by Nandini and Murali Mohan. The surprise element of the repertoire was their dance to Mahadeva, a four-line song composed by sitar maestro Pt Ravi Shankar. It was recomposed and arranged by Anoushka into a strong rhythmic, dark-feeling track. In this, Shiva the destroyer also presents a picture of uncontrollable anger.

It was an evening thoroughly well spent witnessing three different styles by very talented teams trained by four well known gurus in the city.

G. Ulaganathan is a senior writer and journalist based in Bangalore.