UK’s premier year round South Asian Arts Festival based in the North West
of England, is celebrating Jhankar, a dance festival from February to November
2004. This is being sponsored by the Arts Council, England.
In the earlier months, there were few other dance programs - Nina Rajarani’s
Equilibrium, Gauri Sharma Tripathi’s Vyuha (The Square Circle) and
Sonia Sabri in a combination of contemporary dance and Kathak. Although
there are more to come, the highpoint of Jhankar seems to be Malavika Sarukkai
who performed at the Lowry on 9th May.
master class that Malavika conducted was a valuable experience for the
local students of dance. It is important to reiterate the basics to students,
and Malavika stressed on these items. These things can never be repeated
enough. Given the fact that the children were in awe of facing a teacher
of Malavika’s stature (which was well explained by the organiser), when
she stressed on the importance of Aramandi and Angashuddham, it came with
renewed weight. Today’s generation is lucky that the gurus come and take
workshops and master classes, as against earlier days when students had
to not just go to the masters, but prove their sincerity and competence
before they were taught anything.
was indeed looking forward to Malavika. I suppose the audience said it
all. The program itself was structured intelligently with contemporary
topics presented in traditional style. Following a nritya anjali, was spring
as Kalidasa saw it in Ritusamhara with Manmatha busy at work!! Many in
the audience could identify their own real life situations with the popular
javali “Ni matale” (Poorvi kalyani) –“where are your promises…gone with
the wind?” However the mood changed completely in the two pieces which
followed – Yudhishtra's dream (in which a deer begs the former to stop
hunting so that the animals do not become extinct) and Thimaka’s longing
(a real life story of a lady who brings up an avenue of more than 250 banyan
trees). The evening ended with Mohanakalyani thillana and Vande Maataram.
Indeed the items were aptly chosen.
It was to be
noted that the subtle lighting added a new, effective angle to Malavika’s
portrayal of Manmatha at work. The Lowry is indeed one of the best theatres
in the UK. Baghyalakshmi (vocal), Murali (nattuvangam) and Rajashekar (mridangam)
gave good support to Malavika. Shikamani (violin) was brilliant. One could
not ignore the mood created by his Shubapantuvarali and Vasanta phrases
to name a few, thereby reaffirming the importance of a supportive
It was a nice
evening for Manchester – thanks to Milapfest, thanks to Malavika.
dancer Deepa Ganesh, student of Adyar Lakshman and Kalanidhi Narayanan,
is the artistic director of Upasana.