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Ojas: A platform to showcase dance
- Satish Suri
Photos courtesy: Nrithyathi Kalakshetram

July 12, 2018

The collaboration of two senior artists namely, Poornima Ashok of Nrithyanjali (Bangalore) and Dr.Ratheesh Babu of Nrithyathi Kalakshetram (Bhilai) to set up a platform for dancers to showcase their skills,was the stimulus for Ojas, with its first chapter being inaugurated in Bangalore on 3rd June at Seva Sadan. The festival was noteworthy in the fact it presented 97 artists, from across the country and in all genres to display their skills in a competition spread over two days. The winners will be given an opportunity to perform in the next chapter of Ojas to be held in Trivandrum followed by Mumbai and the finals at Raipur. The evening featured programs with both solo and group performances.

The opening performance on Day1 was by S.Nisha, a senior disciple of Poornima Ashok. She began the proceedings with a pusphanjali, followed by "Ananda Narthana Ganapathi." Her next piece was a composition of Muthuswamy Dikshitar "Kanchadalayadakshi" describing the many beautiful aspects of the Goddess.She concluded with "Nagendra Haraya." Her performance, which had the markings of good training, was competent and enlivened by the live orchestra with Karthik Hebbar (vocals), Poornima Ashok (nattuvangam), Vinod Anoor (mridangam) and K.Jayaram (flute).


Deepesh Hoskere

The next to take to the Stage was Deepesh Hoskere a disciple of Dr. Ratheesh Babu. His Bharatanatyam skills were fully exploited in the Swati Tirunal composition "Shankara Sri Giri Natha Prabho" exploring in detail the life of the lord of dance with agility and well-defined movements and expressions. The main feature of the day 'Sakhyam' was presented by the three senior dancers under the signature Trayi - Anuradha Venkataraman, Ramaa Venugopalan and Radhika Ramanujam - wherein the emphasis was on the eternal bond of Krishna with the river Yamuna.

Krishna struck by the hunter's arrow is awaiting his final moments. The Yamuna silently flows and tells Krishna that it is time to recognize our eternal friendship. "You are not an ordinary mortal. You have befriended Sudhama, Arjuna and Draupadi. They have all moved on and it's time to celebrate our friendship. You wanted to hold the moon in your little hands. It was I that showed the reflection in the water. It was I who revealed the serpent Kaliya as you danced on its several hoods and subdued it, protecting us from its poison. As a youth, you stole the clothes of the Gopis, it was I who explained to the Gopis about your divinity and they all rose naked and surrendered to you. It was I who spoke of the message of love of Radha, the eternal Sakhi. You danced the Raas with the Gopis and went to Mathura to kill Kamsa. It was I who pacified the lovelorn Gopis and asked to see in each of them the eternal consciousness of you. It was I who carried the news of celebration of your killing Kamsa. As Parthasarathy, you blew the conch and announced the Kurukshetra war.You helped the Pandavas in their victory and regain their land. As per the curse of Gandhari, all the Yadava clan was destroyed and all your friends. But I stood by you as the eternal Sakhi. Do not despair.You are not alone. I have seen all the trials and tribulations that you went through." The portrayal of this metaphor of an eternal Sakhi was full of finesse. The spirit of the narrative was echoed in movements, the sancharis evocatively expressed and their synchronisation perfect to the last detail with the technical perfection of the genre of Bharatanatyam.

The flowing elegance on stage and the refined aesthetic movements that were brought into play to showcase both the natya and nritya elements depicting the myriad moods, characterised by eloquent facial expressions, line and geometry, gave the narrative a seamless progression.The collaboration of the three dancers displayed professional competence and creativity. The composition of Dr. S. Shankar set to music by two flautists Mahesh Swamy and Narasimhamurty was the high note exemplifying the presentation as the trio came together to conclude with a Tillana personifying the eternal Sakhi, the Yamuna, much to the appreciation of the audience.

Anuradha Venkataraman, Ramaa Venugopalan, Radhika Ramanujam

Devika Sajeevan

The evening of Day 2 of Ojas began with a delightfully refreshing Bharatanatyam performance by Devika Sajeevan from Kerala.The Kriti of Shiva describing the five elements which she delineated with perfect poise and composure had a measure of grace and aesthetic sensibility. The sanchari of Uma falling in love with Shiva was subtle and evocative.The deft and well articulated movements and beautiful abhinaya that gave expression to the composition by Ajit Edapalli and music by Narayanan Kutty Vailopilly synergised her performance and added value to her presentation.

Gowripriya Somnath, alumni of Kalakshetra, now teaching at Raja Mansingh Tomar University, Gwalior, presented "Shiva Panchakshari Stotram"with elegant movements and effortless delineation.The piece concluded with "Nandi Chollu" with Sheejith Krishna providing the forceful nattuvangam and sollus. She ended her program with "Nagendra Haraya" complemented by expressive impressions and a delineation packed with the attributes of Lord Shiva were interpreted with a graceful demeanour and devotion.

Gowripriya Somnath

Anupama Mohan, Sowmya Nair, Karthika Chandran

The finale was provided by a sterling Kuchipudi performance by Satyanjali Academy of Kuchipudi Dance, Kerala, led by Anupama Mohan and her dancers Sowmya Nair, Karthika Chandran and Syama Balachandran who presented the classic dance drama 'Sri Krishna Parijatham' of Guru Vempati Satyam. The sage Narada enters the scene to set in motion an altercation between Krishna and the conceited Satyabhama. He visits Dwaraka and gives the divine flower parijatham to Krishna, explains its significance and asks that it be handed over to one that deserves it and Krishna gives it to Rukmini who is close by. Narada conveys this information to Satyabhama who in her rage questions the propriety of Krishna to give the flower to Rukmini. Krishna decides to console her by saying that he would plant the very parijatham tree in her courtyard. However, the plant sheds its flowers in the neighbourhood courtyard of Rukmini who collects it for her daily puja ritual, further annoying Satyabhama. Finally, Narada explains that it's devotion that matters and no one's pride. Satyabhama accepts Rukmini's pride of place among the lord's consorts.

Supported with original recorded music which had Kanaka Durga on the vocals in full flow and the artistic ingenuity of the choreography of the maestro Vempati Satyam, it threw up nostalgic memories as the narrative opened to a vibrant delineation. The well-conceived stagecraft and the emotive contours of the possessive Satyabhama showcasing anger, love and mixed emotions were finely articulated. Anupama Mohan as Satyabhama, essayed the role to dramatic effect displaying the myriad emotions and equally well supported by Sowmya Nair, Karthika Chandran and Syama Balachandran, sticking to the Kuchipudi idiom with good balance and control over the nritta elements to provide an absorbing and delightful number.

The Ojas chapter started on a promising note and one hopes that the future of this collaboration will go a long way in providing opportunities to the dancers.

Bangalore based Satish Suri is an avid dance rasika besides being a life member of the Music and Arts Society.