'Naadanta' by Nritya Kalangan and Jalsa Chandra Performing Troupe
- Nita Vidyarthi
Photos courtesy: Nritya Kalangan
September 15, 2018
Nritya Kalangan and Jalsa Chandra Performing troupe, Kolkata, spearheaded by senior dancer Jalsa Chandra, presented 'Naadanta,' an evening of traditional Bharatanatyam and Kathak dances, at the Calcutta University Institute Hall, Kolkata. It was a biennial festival organized by Jalsa Chandra, who is trained in Bharatanatyam with Guru Dr. Thankamani Kutty and in Kathak with Kanan Sen. At present she is honing her skills in Kathak with Pt Rajendra Gangani. So it is expected that the festival would showcase both of her Bharatanatyam and Kathak choreographies. The first half of the evening was an offering of Bharatanatyam items by her students and members of the troupe. Solo Kathak by Jalsa and two group Kathak choreographies were presented in the second. The inauguration with the ritualistic lighting of the lamp by Guru Thankamani Kutty was followed by felicitation of eminent personalities. Considering the recent trend of an elaborate felicitation of a long list of personalities, it was a relief to find that Jalsa was wise enough to have kept it short.
Naadanta opened with the mangalacharan "Maha Vishnu Stotram" in ragam Yamuna Kalyani, talam adi, followed by an enjoyable ragam Kamas based swarajati in adi tala. Both these items were performed by about 26 small girls, all students of Nritya Kalangan. Jalsa managed to train them well to move with the rhythm. Guru Thankamani encourages her disciples to innovate with form and costumes within the traditional idiom and these children were there with traditional jewellery, wearing lehengas, filling up the whole performance space with rhythm. Seniors performing adi talam based Alarippu in ragam Hamsadhwani, showed a good grip of nritta. The dancers wore bright plain, coloured shimmering saris with a broad zari border, a tight fitting broad triangular kamarband over a pair of matching leggings. The costume had a look similar to those generally worn in regular classes or rehearsals! Clad in lovely parrot green and navy blue traditional attires, Jatiswaram in misra chapu and ragam Mohanam by a slightly grown up group, steered comfortably with the rhythm but lacked neatness as there were around 24 dancers moving at a time on stage! Set to ragam Yamuna Kalyani, talam misra chapu, Ganga Stuti was a well choreographed piece. The aarti at the beginning by the large group showed good team work and evoked a devotional flavour. In spite of the joyous dancing, the two rhythmic Rabindra Sangeet numbers "Orey ayere sobey matrey" (although a song of spring!) and "Jhoro jhoro jhoro jhoro jhorey ranger jharna" lost its appeal because of the poor singing with stultifying pronunciation by singer Shromona Dhara.
The Ritigowla varnam "Kuttabiran Nataraja imavan" composed in adi talam by Jalsa specially for the occasion was a lengthy piece using an interesting combination of adavas. The piece saw some sharp teermanams performed with power and grace by the seniors who were trained adequately to execute the choreographer's imagination. The first half concluded with a mediocre Rama Keertanam and the vigorous Kamas Thillana, followed by Mangalam. The musicians in this part of the program were Guru Ranganathan Srinivasan (vocals), S. Venkatraman on the mridangam, Nataraj Radhakrishnan on the violin, Debraj Bose on the synthesizer and nattuvangam by Jalsa Chandra.
The second half showcased riveting Kathak initiated by a vigorous Kalika Stotram "Mata Kalika" by Jalsa Chandra. Clad in red, Jalsa incorporated chakkars and fast paced tatkar in her choreography, moving across the stage with impactful hand gestures and expressions, portraying the killing of the demons. This was followed by nritta in teentaal showcasing the technical competence of Jalsa. She presented some conventional pure dance pieces of her guru Rajendra Gangani beginning with thaat, amad, uthan, ladi, paranth, different jatis like tishra, chaturashra, khanda, mishra, sankirna and tihais. Her chakkars need mention for their strength and steadiness. However in order to concentrate on the grammar, the neatness of her hand movements suffered at times. The peacock gat composed by her was well executed in the drut laya and so was the brisk Ganesha vandana.
The rendition in Jhap taal by a group of nine dancers saw good training and confidence but 'Vasant,' the musical composition describing the splendours of holi set to the song "Kheley holi piya sang" was a fine finishing to the evening and enjoyable too. Musical support in the Kathak segment came from Abira Mukherjee (vocals), Pratik Mukherjee (tabla), Vijay Mishra (sarangi), Sekhar Deuri (flute) and Rajib Ghosh on the bol paranth.
Dr. Nita Vidyarthi is a veteran critic of performing arts and writes on dance, music and theatre in leading publications.