Overlooking the Splendid Work of Shovana Narayanby Opinion Express December 29, 2018 0 comments
This year, on a professional note, has been a very satisfying one. It began with performances at international festivals in Hungary and Germany and went on to several other workshops during the summer, encompassing various countries of Europe and Turkey. It was a series of whirlwind performing tours at several national festivals in various cities and towns.
However, one thing that remained common in all the international and national workshops was that the participants showed a tremendous interest in the Indian classical dance form, Kathak. It dates back to over two and half thousand years, pre-dating the Natyashastra. I was simply bowled over by the questions asked by the students and members of such meets and workshops, be it abroad or in Indian cities.
This drove some innovation in performances. Two of the most challenging acts that the year welcomed were the ballet productions based on Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s Rashmirathi and on the select verses of the Bhagwad Gita, with lesser-known episodes of the Mahabharata titled The Bhagwad: Ma Ganga Dhyayati.
Dinkar’s celebrated work Rashmirathi, centering around the sorrowful life of Karna, Kunti’s first-born child whom she had abandoned as he was born before her marriage, presented the poignancy of Karna and Kunti with all hues of human emotions trapped in moral dilemmas. On the other hand, The Bhagwad’s theme centred around the pessimistic thoughts of mind that pollute the environment through our actions as human weaknesses have constantly been exhibited ages after ages, be it in the period of Mahabharata as well. Set in five acts, it explores the practice of virtues of abstention from greed, non-egoism, of eschewing pride, anger and desire for revenge, for they spell disaster in the long run as has been exhorted in the Holy Bhagwad Gita.
There were more wonderful performances, in which I was involved as well — Kalidasa’s poetic work Shakuntala. The performance saw music composed by the early 19th century famous Austrian composer Franz Schubert. The performance, staged at packed houses in three cities, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai, was played live by the Austrian Chamber Orchestra and sung by the members of Shillong Choir.
Another challenging assignment that I was involved with was acting in a feature film that is scheduled for release some time in 2019. I am looking forward to it as it’s an eternal story of dilemmas and uncertainties that each individual in all professions go through and is an attempt at diversifying my artistic expression. As a guru, it was most heartening to see my disciples Shivani Varma, Mrinalini, Ragini Madan and Kristina Dolinina (Lithuanian) winning great accolades from artistes and connoisseurs alike.
On the academic front, my new book Illuminating Classical Dance through Yoga was launched at the International Festival on Health and Yoga under the aegis of Ministry of AYUSH at Goa. The ongoing research on Kathaks of kathak villages (villages named after the community of story-tellers), sprung several surprises that led to awareness of a living tradition of the kathaks in the temples of Ayodhya and such other holy places.
On the artistic scene, the year has seen creativity at various levels from artistes of several genres bursting forth non-stop despite challenging circumstances, especially in the field of Kathak. It was heartening to see such dedication to a classical dance form in the pop culture environment of today.
Writer: Shovana Narayan
Courtesy: The Pioneer