Sankalpa 2018: A festival of dance by Nrittyoday
- Dr. Nita Vidyarthi
Photos courtesy: Nrittyoday
October 24, 2018
Sankalpa 2018 was the fifth year celebration of the institution 'Nrittyoday-Creators of Creativity' at the Gyan Manch, Kolkata, through an assortment of dance presentations choreographed by the talented young dancer Bidhan Roy Chowdhury. Bidhan heads Nrittyoday and is trained in Bharatanatyam with Anita Mallik while mastering the Uday Shankar style from childhood from Mamata Shankar. He introduced a daring novelty this year by experimenting with a popular Hindi film song of yesteryear on the light of the Jayadeva ashtapadi "Priya Charushiley." Of course, he did not forget to stage the youngest learners of his institution with appropriate joyous numbers, composed, keeping in mind their age and abilities.The format and nature of the presentations were similar to the earlier Sankalpa editions. Single short pieces were set to popular Bengali adhunik (modern) songs.
The first half was devoted to traditional Bharatanatyam beginning with a convincing Pushpanjali in ragam Aarbi, talam adi, followed by "Mushika Vahana" in ragamalika by a group of little girls. Then came the gratifying solo "Ananda Tandava Ganapati" by Bidhan in ragam Hamsadhwani, talam adi choreographed by his guru and performed in front of her watchful eyes. The physical beauty of the sharp, linear masculine movements under tenacious control of the tall dancer was distinctly felt in his neat adavus and teermanams. Anita Mallik congratulated him for his performance. "Gajananayutham", a well choreographed, ragam Ragachakravaka, adi talam based item by four finely dressed male dancers appeared a bit too vigorous at times resulting in the loss of elegance.
Rahul Deb, a guest Kathak dancer and a disciple of Rajendra Gangani, has already made a name in the dance circuit and his entry with a fast paced "Om Shankar Kailashpati" embellished with chakkars spoke of a fine riyaz. His energetic nritta had sparkle in the lovely jumps while arriving pat on the sam and displayed good grip on rhythm. The Kavit "Om damaru baaje" was a neat blend of the Lucknow and Jaipur gharana and had the stamp of his guru. It was a pleasure to watch his chakradhar paran.
The second half was devoted to Uday Shankar dance form opening with "Ehsan tera" based on the hit Hindi film song "Ehsan tera hoga mujhbar" of the sixties amalgamated with the nuances or essence of "Priye charushiley". Well-known Hindustani classical and Rabindrasangeet singer Sounak Chatterjee had harmoniously blended this popular number with soulful bandishes of Hindustani classical music. Sargams with variations of the ragas was streaming into the strumming of guitar that was pouring out lilting western melody within the frame of the antara. His voice was an asset at the interludes of the song choreographed by Bidhan, who made a prominent romantic Krishna dancing with exquisite majesty. The dancing of the group of sakhis with senior dancer Sreeparna Chatterjee as a rather inappropriate Radha, both in execution and in deport was hardly visible because of the ultra violet lights reflected from the shimmering white costumes and diffusing from the cloud of smoke pumped into the stage from every corner. The expressions of impassionate involvement of Radha and Krishna so important in this number lay buried in the haze. This idea of unnecessarily mystifying a sequence and creating an illusion is now an ever increasing practice that prevents the detailed movements of the dancers from reaching the audience. Music overpowered the dancing in this effort which could have been more interesting with a bit more imagination.
Juniors presented joyous numbers with popular songs. Anup Ghoshal's "Aha ki Ananda" from Satyajit's Ray's block buster "Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen" and jazzy "Kanamachhi" (the game of blind man's bluff) sung by Shaan was entertaining. Fourteen mixed group of seniors established their training with the mood of soulful romantic song "Kholo daar badhua royechhi je dadaye" (Please open the door, dear, I am waiting) by Iman Chakravarty. The bright costumes especially the lehenga for the female dancers, the blend of styles and the symphony music enhanced the appeal of this number.
One never gets tired of hearing the composition Shradhanjali by the Late Ananda Shankar. Four male dancers together with Bidhan gave a creditable performance with this number that had lovely sways and body inflections. Devdasee was another touching number inspired by Tagore's poem Pujarini with music by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons. Group numbers Rangamaati (sung by Shaan) had a folksy style; Aakash Daake and Tindana were by children. Senior students presented their own choreography showing freedom of movement and thought that was quite elaborate and displayed something beyond the decorative technical flashes. The dancers had good training but wandered off in their execution. Another imaginative idea of the five elements was woven in "Surer Dhara" based on Tagore's poems and songs. He used songs involving conch shell as representative of water, the poem "Ogo Banshiwala" (O flute seller), flute for air and the like.
In between there was felicitations in batches of the large number of dignitaries apart from his two gurus. Bidhan should plan a shorter Sankalpa in future. Three and a half hours is too long a time to avoid monotony and keep the audience in thrall till the end.
Dr. Nita Vidyarthi is a veteran critic of performing arts and writes on dance, music and theatre in leading publications.