A Report 

Dance mania in December  

Kathak by Nirupama, Rajendra & Abinava Dance Group 
- Dec 19, 2004 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai  
Text & photos: Lalitha Venkat 

December 21, 2004

Trained under gurus Kumudhini Lakhia and Maya Rao, Bangalore-based Kathak duo Nirupama and Rajendra are known for their blend of traditional and creative movements. The Abinava Dance Group started their recital with a vandana to Lord Ganapathy. The Sanskrit mantras were sung in symphony style by the Abinava Music ensemble, to music composed by Atul and Ajay from Mumbai.  
In pure Kathak style, Nirupama and Rajendra explored the magic of the monsoon in Varsha, and the joy of the falling rain interspersed with thunder and lightning. Praveen Rao has composed the music for this beautiful piece.  

Rasaleela, based on the Bhagavad Purana, was a vibrant piece in Brijbhasha, set to music composed by Praveen Rao. Clad in attractive, colorful costumes, the gopis whirled around the stage, standing out against a black backdrop studded with numerous twinkling stars.  

Expressing her pride in being a Kathak performer hailing from the South, Nirupama feels the knowledge of other classical dance forms prevalent here, definitely has an influence on her movements. She feels this enriches the nuances of one’s performance. Angikam involved the many elements that she has learnt from these dance styles. The idea behind the music composed by Thirumalai Srinivas, is that the combination of Carnatic, Hindustani and new age beats would appeal to the younger generation.  

The duet Ta-Dha was recently choreographed by guru Kumudhini Lakhia who gave structure to the item. Nirupama and Rajendra worked on the other aspects - concept, the kind of music it featured, designing the costumes and lighting, and recording the original score by Praveen Rao, which is a blend of Indian and African percussion and world music.  

The final group item was one of pure, joyous rhythm and the group deservedly earned the thunderous applause. The meticulous training and hard work that had gone into the presentation, the gorgeous costumes and flowing dance movements made the evening an undeniably aesthetic experience. A captivating show like this naturally invited a lot of appreciative comments from the audience members and dance gurus like CV Chandrasekar who remarked, "A wonderful performance like this shows the dedication and sincerity of the artistes. One can see the painstaking rehearsals and hard work that has gone into it." 

What was it like to perform here in Chennai during the season?  
Says Nirupama, “It does feel very good to get a great response from the Chennai viewers. We are also truly touched by the appreciation for our creativity from senior gurus and artists. What Professor CV Chandrashekar sir says is 100 % true. It does require great commitment, sincerity and loooooooot of hard work to present a show. This one took three days of four hours of work, but our recent Bangalore Habba concert took two months of non-stop work.” 

What is the difference between performing in Chennai and Bangalore?  
“Bangaloreites know the quality of our work and just love us... I guess with this show, we made a part of Chennai love us too. We just loooooove dance and would loooove to share it more if invited more frequently by Chennaities.”  
Hopefully organizers are listening because we need to see more such performances in Chennai.   

What standards have they set for themselves?  
“We strive hard to make things look absolutely professional. To the best of our abilities, we are trying to give our dance the treatment that a Broadway company would give,   especially with regard to creating music, rehearsals, costuming.....entries....exits .... and  working towards a certain quality in presentation. Our Indian arts have great spirit and content, but it needs a better form and approach and has to be projected at a certain level. 

This has been our path and....we are enjoying this path.” 

(Presented by Kartik Fine Arts).