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Shradhanjali by Shinjan Nrityalaya, Kolkata
- Nita Vidyarthi
Photos courtesy: Shinjan Nrityalaya

July 24, 2019

Every year, renowned Odissi dancer Aloka Kanungo pays tribute to her gurus Raghunath Dutta and Kelucharan Mohapatra, through dance by organising 'Shradhanjali'- an evening showcasing the choicest of Odissi solos and choreographic work by the dancers of her institution Shinjan Nrityalaya in Kolkata, and also guest artists. This year, Rani Karnaa, another luminary in the field of Kathak as well as Odissi dance and a close associate of Kanungo, was also offered Shradhanjali at the Satyajit Ray auditorium, Rabindranath Tagore Centre, Kolkata, by Shinjan through an offering of Odissi. Aloka Kanungo believes in simplicity. With a strong imaginative mind and through "not-so-ornamented" step vocabulary, still and mobile points of classical Odissi, she creates stunning choreography.

Vande Mataram

The lighting of the lamp was by Odissi guru Kumkum Mohanty, who narrated interesting anecdotes, often humorous, about her Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. The performance began with a group number 'Vande Mataram.' Six of her well trained dancers Sriparna Bose, Paulomi Chakravarty, Nivedita Daw Dutta, Sauvra Maity, Sraboni Sen and Urjjasee Basak brought alive the poetry in the lyrics of our National song and made us once again proud of our country. Patriotism was laced in the animated choreography of coalescence of different aesthetic movements of the confident dancers responding to the refrain of raag Desh, potentially transporting those who chose to enter the space, the time and the guided discovery of our land once more with the support of the tri-colour held by three dancers in an impressive posture and stance. The music re-arranged by Himangshu Sarkar Swain with rhythms by Buddhanath Swain, articulated the classical traditions both in music and in dance, emphasizing novelty.

Three solo presentations by the senior students began with 'Durga' by Nivedita Daw Dutta, in ragamalika, talamalika set to the lovely song "Jata Juta Samayuktam." Choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra and sung mellifluously by Bijay Kumar Jena, Nivedita negotiated the piece with energy and technical competence, in which the Mother Goddess epitomizes power and beauty. A sensitive dancer, Sriparna Bose brought out the nuances of the Odiya abhinaya "Kahin gale Murali phunka" in raga Mishra Desh, written by poet Banamali Das with romantic and aesthetic usage of expressions and space while doing justice to the soothing choreography of Muralidhar Majhi.

"Taal Madhuri" was a dynamic composition by Kanungo, with naghma maintained in raag Shankarabharanam while the dancer Paulomi Chakravarty captured the intricacy of rhythm and juggled with the bols of ektaal with competence, assurance and artistic delight.

Paulomi Chakravarty, Nivedita Daw Dutta, Sriparna Bose

Kaustavi Sarkar

Kaustavi Sarkar, the guest artist from UNC Charlotte, USA, trained with Paushali Mukherjee and then with Ratikant Mohapatra and Sujata Mohapatra, is a brilliant dancer of the present generation. In her presentation 'Woman,' she explored both the graceful, tender as well as the powerful feminine essence, embracing "lasya" and in a separate choreography she brought out the severe strength and beauty with the tandava aspect of traditional Odissi. In her first piece set to the lovely Natyangi number, "Na Ja Jamuna" by poet Raghunath and choreographed by Bichitrananda Swain, she displayed through refined abhinaya how sakhi berates Radha for going to the banks of the Jamuna and forbids her to do so. The conversation between two friends was communicated by "ekapatra" abhinaya with poise and graceful ease.

She came across as an appealing dancer exploring the tandava with competence apart from mature abhinaya while shifting expressions in elaborating the nine forms of the Mother Goddess in the popular piece "Nava Durga" choreographed by Ratikant Mohapatra with Harihar Panda's music composition. The Bhagavati Stotra "Jaya Bhagawati Devi namoh varadey" in raga Bhairavi and taal jyoti is in devotional flavour which the seasoned dancer readily responded to. Just as the dancer revealed physical flexibility in utplavanas, she displayed her fine grip on nritta through the different bhramaris, especially anga bhramaris. Kaustavi has sophisticated curvilinear aesthetics, fluidity of movements and wonderful body inflexions which make her performances fascinating.

Basant Pallavi

The program concluded with a pleasing, well-coordinated Basant Pallavi by the Shinjan dancers choreographed by Aloka Kanungo with music and rhythm by Himangshu Sarkar Swain.

Dr. Nita Vidyarthi is a veteran critic of performing arts and writes on dance, music and theatre in leading publications.

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