resonance in Kathak
October 14, 2006
The present trip brought three compositions onto different stages in Kerala. Thrissur, the cultural capital of Kerala enjoyed them under the aegis of Thalam. Fitting into the mood of Navaratri was the group item Shaktistuti - the power of Durga in three aspects Shakti, Matri and Shanti (the power of Strength, Universal Mother and Peace beyond understanding). The item, a scintillating performance, pays tribute to Bengal and its cultural legacy. By harnessing modern technology of lighting and sound, the choreography acquires an ethereal dimension. The people of India could only worship such strength, power and beauty.
Nabachanda (New Rhythm), strikingly original, is a composition of nine beats. The dancers weave various geometric patterns like, the square, oval, triangle, parallels and their like. Designs that evoke tantric symbols and the nuances of Rangoli, weave magic patterns to the accompaniment of powerful, haunting music. Somewhere from the depth of consciousness, the Srichakra emerges. The Indian mind of ancient times created the Srichakra, which is still a mathematical challenge. As the dancers weave celestial-designs, your spirit floats in the star-spangled sky where constellations opened doors to astronomy and astrology in ancient India. Here the modern mind gets connected to India's heritage, by means of costume that suits the modern search, tastes and times. Different vocabularies of Kathak finally merge and mingle to form an explorative symphony.
Viraha Milan (Separation and Reunion), is highly sensuous. It portrays the pangs of lovelorn Radha. The oft-repeated theme has a different dimension. Human to the core, it focuses on love: an eternal ecstasy; separation its aching partner. Here, Radha is the symbol of the human in love. She realizes love through her memories: time spent together, joys shared together, and promises made... alas not to be fulfilled!! She realizes her love in fantasies: his touch, his music, his closeness. It is psychological realism that is portrayed in such anguish. Every human being capable of love goes through its endless pangs. The soul-mate always lives in deep isolation. In that sense the Radha theme is timeless. The dance recital by Ashimbandhu and his senior artist Luna Pan portrays the enduring romance from India's cultural memories.
(Ankle-bells) the main item, showcases the story of ankle-bells in an autobiographical
vein. An innovative piece, the group item traces the story of ankle-bells
from its birth shrouded in mystery to its role in dance performance today.
At another level, it symbolizes the classical dancer, her past, present,
and future. At a deeper level, the composition traces the evolution of
the aesthetic perception of humanity. History comes alive in different
layers: as deep as poetry, accompanied by a joy that only dance can evoke
.As the performance ends, you hear the jingling all around, deep within,
and it courses through your blood stream like the rivers of India.
When dancing girls wore the golden bells around their ankles, the Ghungroo found its joy; felt ecstatic when the temple dancers danced before its Creator. Years rolled on, the dancers became honored guests at the king's court. The Ghungroo was proud to share the honor. Change came, history moving ahead. The Islamic era saw a change in theme, costume, and sophistication in style. The Ghungroo remained the signature of dancers, their alluring rhythmic steps.
dark days were traumatic when dancers were exploited by male clutches.
Devadasis fell from their glory. During their days of ill repute the Ghungroo
moved stealthily when dusk deepened, or when lovers met in lonely places....The
eternal search for identity continued. In its course the Ghungroo remained
a witness to Creation, Sustenance and Destruction. Now the Ghungroo has
reached the proscenium theatre. What next? What is the future of classical
dance in India as artists struggle against onslaughts amid changing tastes?
Neither man nor woman but a divine spirit, the Ghungroo rises with hopes
and aspirations, and dreams of its lasting legacy. As long as human hearts
could be charmed by sound and stillness that create the jingling note,
the Ghungroo will live, is the message of the ballet. Indeed Ghungroo is
the signature of Indian classical dance throughout the subcontinent. Fast
pace, dramatic moments, different styles of presentation, changes in costume
and music, makes the recital an exclusive visual orchestration.
Padma Jayaraj is a freelance journalist. She covers fine arts and travel for The Hindu, and is a regular contributor to narthaki.com