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Shree Ranga Dance Festival
- Tapati Chowdurie
Photos courtesy: Jalsa Chandra

August 4, 2019

Jalsa Chandra performing troupe presented its Shree Ranga Dance Festival on July 10, 2019 at ICCR, Kolkata, during the auspicious week of Rath Yatra. Very significantly the evening's fare was served with a prayer song by Guru Ranganathan Srinivasan, Jalsa Chandra's mentor in Carnatic music. A disciple of Kalamandalam Thankamani Kutty, Jalsa Chandra is a dedicated and disciplined teacher / performer of Bharatanatyam, who is determined to follow art for arts' sake. Her festival had guest artists from her alma mater Kalamandalam Calcutta, perform.

Jhinook Mukherjee

Sejuti Sengupta

Jhinook Mukherjee Sinha of Kalamandalam Calcutta performed from Krishna Panchaka Mallari verses from King Kulashekhara Mukunda Mala, woven into a Mallari, based on five ragas and khanda triputa tala. The dance was choreographed by Rama Vaidyananathan. In a very imaginatively penned piece, Krishna's devotee finds herself in a lake where his hands and feet are like freshly bloomed lotus, with fish like eyes, and arms falling like rising waves, when she contemplates on him. The similes of the lyrics were beautifully translated into dance. In a trance, Krishna's lover refreshes herself in the blissful water of the lake that engulfs her in Hari's radiance. The piece was charged with bhakti sringar. While Bharatanatyam stances and style of Guru Thankamani Kutty is stamped in Jhinook's rendition, Rama Vaidyanathan has also left her mark on the young performer. To a beginner in dance, it is alright to imitate, but with experience, a dancer should gradually evolve her own style.

Jalsa Chandra performed Vishnu Stotram with live music, vocalized by Ranganathan Srinivasan with mridangam support by Shankar Narayanaswamy. The recitation part was beautifully done by Arunima Mukherjee. Vishnu Stotram also included the chanting of Om with the playing of the mandira by Jalsa's repertory members, which made it spectacular. The choreography was by Jalsa Chandra herself, who gave a glimpse of her creative mind by ending it with a trikala teermanam. In her second solo, which she had learnt from Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan, her weaving a garland of flowers for "Nirajadala Nayana"- the lotus eyed Krishna, was evocative, which included his impish act of stealthily breaking the pot of the gopis, joyful playing of holi with the yellow robed flautist lent beauty to the piece.

Jalsa Chandra

Arpita Sen

Sejuti Sengupta performed the keertanam Manikya Veena by Kalidasa. Manikya Veena Mupalayanthi is an exhaustive Stotra on Lakshmi Devi, the daughter of Matanga Maharishi, from Shyamala Dandakam. It was a choreographic work of Rama Vaidyanathan. The piece is exhaustive with all the qualities of the goddess, who holds the veena. However it has been imaginatively shortened by the choreographer. Should Sejuti put herself into it more, it would be a good asset to her. Arpita Sen of Kalamandalam Calcutta performed "Krishna ni begane baro" which is her guru's composition. It was indeed heartening to see her come back to dance after a gap. She displayed the motherly love for child Krishna immortalized by the poet.

Guest artist Kush Kushari of Drishtidan performed Ananda Natanam by Muthuswami Dikshitar, a choreographic work of Adyar K. Lakshman. It was a Pancha Bhoota Sthala Linga krithi on Nataraja, Chidambaram Akasha Linga, in ragam Kedaram and 7 matra misra chapu tala. Kush Kushari described the qualities of Shiva, seeking refuge in his effulgent form which is like that of crores of sun and the one who is in the form of subtle ether. He has imbibed the Kalakshetra style noted for its angular, straight, ballet-like kinesthetics, but with more effort his knowledge could become a thing of beauty.

Jalsa Chandra's presentation of Panchakshara Stotram to a composition of V. Krishnamurthy, "Na-mo- Si-va- ya" was a group choreographic work. In this too, the creative quality of the artist was noticeable. Young Odissi dancer Lavanya Ghosh was given a platform to present pure nritta - Hamsadhwani Pallavi - along with Bharatanatyam dancer Rishav Poddar, a student of Rahul Dev Mondal, who performed Ardhanarishwaram and Thillana. Kathak dancer Aadita Sinha's teen taal tarana followed by a thumri and Tuhin Chatterjee's Ganesh Shlokam followed by a krithi in praise of Lord Ganesha choreographed by Sujatha Ramalingam gave the new entrants to the dance world a great boost.

Tapati Chowdurie trained under Guru Gopinath in Madras and was briefly with International Centre for Kathakali in New Delhi. Presently, she is a freelance writer on the performing arts.

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