Touryatrikam - A timely initiative  
- Shyamhari Chakra in Kolkata 

November 24, 2006  

Artistes of Kolkata have always been spirited and innovative in their activities. And keeping the legacy alive, six city-based classical dancers came forward this year in setting up a trust – Touryatrikam - for promotion of classical dancers in the city that is increasingly being plagued by pop culture. In the process, they also demonstrated how classical artistes could create a platform for themselves through united efforts. 

The team comprised Mom Ganguly (Mohiniattam), Rina Jana (Odissi), Madhuri Mazumdar (Kuchipudi), Bimbavati Devi (Manipuri), Lalita Ghosh (Sattriya) and Hiromitsu Meghumi (Kathak). The six dancers had solo performances during the occasion, a trend that was appreciated by all in view of the marginalisation of solo shows these days against the organisers' preference for group presentations. The event mounted at the Gyan Manch was aptly named as festival of the Spirit of India dance. 

Madhuri, who opened the show, emerged as the most impressive performer of the evening. Gifted with natural grace and beauty, this lone Kuchipudi artiste of the city performed ashtapadis from Jayadev’s Geeta Govinda that stood apart for its spontaneity. Her portrayal of the love-lorn Radha was remarkable. 

Madhuri Mazumdar
Bimbavati Devi 
Daughter of the legendary Manipuri dancer couple late Guru Bipin Singh and Kalavati Devi, young Bimbavati has emerged as a promising choreographer besides being a versatile performer as the worthy heir of her family legacy. As a tribute to the spirit of India and the festival as well, Bimbavati presented Matrika (mother) that was based on compositions of Tagore, Aurobindo and Bankim Chandra. Both in form and content, the production has harmoniously blended tradition with contemporary sensibilities. While depicting the beauty of India, the motherland that has been ravaged by violence at present, the dancer-choreographer’s juxtaposition of the lasya and tandav elements were simply superb.  

Mohiniattam danseuse Mom is better known as a senior disciple of the well-known guru Bharati Shivaji while quite a few would be aware that this humility personified artiste happens to be the sister-in-law of star cricketer Sourav Ganguly and Odissi dancer Dona. (wife of Snehasish Ganguly, elder brother of Sourav). Mom successfully presented Pandattam (the game of ball) as a soloist, a typical piece of Mohiniattam repertoire, although it was composed for group presentations. The episode describes how a group of girls playing a ball with their hands gradually realize that like the ball rises and kisses the sky and again touches the ground, life is full of ups and downs. 

Sattriya dancer Lalita Ghosh's performance commenced with Krishnavandana. However, the highlight of her show was the typical Chali Nritya that is traditionally performed to commemorate the death anniversaries of sattradhiukaris (religious heads). 

Odissi dancer Rina Jana's Hamsadhwani pallabi (pure dance set to raga Hamsadhwani) stood out for its purity and perfection. Accompanied by soul-stirring music, Rina, a disciple of late guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, demonstrated that she has been a faithful follower of her guru's gharana. 

Mom Ganguly
Hiromitsu Meghumi 
It was the Japanese Kathak dancer Megumi Hiromitsu who won the hearts of the audience with demonstration of her wonderful assimilation of the Indian tradition. The dancer, who has been in Kolkata for barely a year as an NGO representative, addressed the audience in Bengali. And she was the lone artiste of the event to perform with live music too. Starting with a Saraswati vandana, the novice neatly executed the traditional tukda, paran and tihai in teentaal. And she was at her best in Meera bhajan in which she was quite spontaneous and expressive. 

Touryatrikam will host three annual events for promotion of dance and dancers, announced the organizers. While Nrittananda will be its annual interactive national dance festival and seminar, Call of the Legends will be an international festival of dance and music by inviting the pioneers of the respective fields. Besides, the trust will also organize Prana, an annual state level competition of budding dancers to discover hidden talents. 

A former journalist with the Indian Express group, Shyamhari Chakra is a New Delhi based freelancer writing on dance and culture. He is building up an archive on Odissi dance in Bhubaneswar.