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Atharvotsav Dance Festival
- Vijay Shanker
Photos courtesy: Shamal Pawar

May 19, 2019

In order to celebrate International Dance Day, Atharva School of Fine Arts presented Atharvotsav dance festival at Mysore Auditorium in Mumbai on 28th and 29th April. The festival featured senior established dancers and some young talented dancers too.

Atharva School of Fine Arts (Kurla) is headed by accomplished Bharatanatyam and folk dance exponent Shamal Pawar. She has trained several dance aspirants and they have performed on various occasions both in India abroad, winning appreciation for their performances. While delivering the welcome speech, Shamal Pawar said, "Being a member of the International Dance Council of UNESCO, I feel it is my privilege and duty to encourage artistes by providing them a platform. I have also invited performers from other cities like Vyjayanthi Kashi from Bangalore and Balagurunathan from Chennai."

The festival commenced with performances by established performers like Darshana Jhaveri, Vyjayanthi Kashi, Lata Surendra, Debi Basu, Geetha V Shankar, Mukta Joshi, Balagurunathan and Kashmira Trivedi. It was interesting to watch all these dancers performing in their own distinct styles.

After an invocation to both Radha and Krishna, Darshana Jhaveri presented an ashtapadi that interpreted the mental state of three nayikas caught in varied moments of love, finally concluding with khandita nayika in "Yahi Madhava, Yahi Keshava" who is enraged to see her lord returning in the wee hours of the morning with tell-tale marks on his body. Darshana danced with elegance and subtle expressions in the Manipuri style.

Darshana Jhaveri

Vyjayanthi Kashi

Vyjayanthi Kashi's Kuchipudi was impressive in the dramatic display of the story of Kanyakumari who is destined to destroy Banasura but her marriage with Lord Shiva unfortunately never takes place. In the composition "Sundara Bharata Bharati," Lord Shiva is described as Sundareswara, Neelakanteshwara and Brihadeeshwara. The initial excitement of Kanyakumari as she is to get married to Lord Shiva, the disappointment when the Lord never turns up and ultimately as the destroyer of Banasura, takes you on a journey of emotional intensity executed with dramatic prowess by Vyjayanthi. Besides the beautiful music, the dialogues of Kanyakumari was rendered by Vyjayanthi herself.

Lata Surendra

Kashmira Trivedi

Mukta Joshi

Balagurunathan was possibly the only male dancer from the senior section of dancers. Bala's complete involvement along with suitable gestures and powerful and articulate movements (angashuddhi) was the highlight of his performance in the traditional number "Natanam Adinar" that vividly describes the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva as Nataraja.

"Shivaanubhuti" by Lata Surendra, a fine dancer and teacher, in the Bharatanatyam style vividly described the various episodes in the life of Lord Shiva, that includes the Ganga avartanam scene. Lata danced with complete involvement and devotion casting a magical spell on the audience. After invocation to Lord Ganesha, Kashmira Trivedi interpreted the plight of the heroine who is enraged to see her lover return in the morning, after his dalliance with another woman in Jayadeva's ashtapadi, "Yahi Madhava Yahi Keshava."

Mukta Joshi is an accomplished Kathak exponent in Thane and has established her own dance academy. Her powerful layakari and the joyous and festive Hori incorporating the dance of Radha and Krishna was the highlight of her performance. Geeta V Shankar's elegant movements in the Mohiniattam style was the other attraction of the festival. Debi Basu's Odissi was brief but had its moments of subtle expressions and movements.

Debi Basu

Geetha V Shankar

Among the younger set of dancers, Ankita Bagrecha, disciple of Vaibhav Arekar, created a fine impression with her neat performance in the number "Shankara Sri Giri." Besides the pleasing performance by Vidya Sriram and Tejesh Yadav, different dance groups performed Bharatanatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathak and folk dances. On the whole it was a fine initiative to encourage performers in varied disciplines.

Vijay Shanker is a Kuchipudi and Kathakali exponent, teacher, bilingual journalist, arts critic and actor.