A Report 

Dance mania in December  

Odissi by Sonal Mansingh 
- Dec 13, 2004 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai  
Text & photos: Lalitha Venkat 

December 20, 2004

The auditorium was full. Roja Kannan was giving a traditional Bharatanatyam recital. With perfect timing, she finished her recital at 7.15pm and the Odissi performance by Sonal Mansingh started as scheduled at 7.30pm. Starting with a Mangalacharan, she finished with a lively item depicting the procession of Lord Jagannath. Just before the start of the last item, Mansingh requested the house lights to be turned on, so she could see the discerning Chennai rasikas gathered to see her. She wanted to share her thoughts as the Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi (New Delhi), with them.  
“What is old is also new and what is new gets old. That’s the entire tradition of our Indian art. With so many things happening at various venues during the season, the audience moves from one venue to another to catch up on performances. How can we offer more, yet not tire our audience?” she asked, inviting suggestions.  

While expressing her happiness at visiting Chennai every year for the December season, Mansingh wanted to clear a common misconception that the format of Odissi lacks the verve of Bharatanatyam. She said earnestly, “Rasikas, please consider this. My elder sister and I look alike…but we are different. Odissi and Bharatanatyam are like that. Both are derived from the Natya Sastra but the feeling and character are different.” 
With her frequent visits to Chennai, Sonal Mansingh clearly knows that rasikas, however discerning they may be, start moving out at 8.30pm, irrespective of whether they are causing a disturbance or not. She actually asked the audience if it was alright if she concluded her recital with a short item on Lord Jagannath, so people would not have difficulty getting transport back home - and a few members did answer her in the affirmative!!  

It was very heartening to note that the hall stayed full till the end of the day’s performance.  

(Presented by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in association with Kala Pradarshini).