Three Renowned Dance-Drama Groups Performing at Kendra Dance Festival

by May 8, 2018 0 comments

Kendra Dance FestivalShobha Deepak Singh, Director of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, says, Delhi audience will see a varied range of dance dramas at Kendra Dance Festival this year.

Every summer, Shobha Deepak Singh, director of Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra curates a ballet festival that has poignantly portrayed the contemporary relevance of Indian mythology and folklore through majestic dance-dramas like Meera, Durga, Krishna and others.

Meera will once again witness the expressive Molina Singh portraying the trials and tribulations of the Sufi poetess and Krishna devotee while presenting the inherent strength of a woman’s conviction, Shree Durga retells the story of slaying the demon Mahishasura present even in today’s society, and Kaalchakra depicts a state of mind which forms an integral part of the Indian psyche, while plunging into and emerging from the cycle of human birth and death.

But in a pioneering initiative, the Padma Shri awardee has for the first time invited choreographers and performers from outside the Kendra’s domain.

Titled Kendra Dance Festival, it will witness three dance-drama ballets — Samudranatanam-Jalam choreographed by Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sanjeev (Kerala), choreography works in Bharatanatyam by Justin McCarthy (Delhi) and Movement And Still choreographed by Kumudini Lakhia (Ahmedabad) — apart from the Kendra’s in-house and ever-popular dance drama ballets.

“The reason for inviting outside choreographers this year was to give a platform to these talented yet seldom seen performers in Delhi. Also, it will be a new and unique experience for Delhi audience to see a diverse range of dance-dramas, ranging from mythology to folklore, from history of dance to conservation and environment, from traditional dance forms to varied contemporary styles,” said Shobha.

While Meera and Durga have been constant on the Kendra ballet circuit, Kaalchakra has made a comeback after a decade. It commences with the Hiranyagarbh or the golden egg. The Hiranyagarbh is covered with filaments of five elements — ether, wind, fire, water and earth. Brahman, the soul of the golden egg, seeks to manifest itself in the form of state of non-being to that of being. Initially the atman (soul) is in harmony with the five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste. Soon, the senses take control and the atman becomes subservient to them. A desire for liberation gradually awakens in the atman. It begins its arduous, formidable journey towards its goal of emancipation from the senses. The atman thus makes a full Kaalchakra  of life achieving moksha by merging into the supreme light of consciousness. Commenting on doing a ballet on Panchtattvas, Shobha said, “The idea of doing a ballet on Panchtattvas took seed many years ago. Each of the tattvas provided potential for choreographic investigation and interpretation. A short item, by this name, was presented in 1987 and now I have taken up the challenge of doing these as a full length choreographic work.”

The theme of Samudranatanam-Jalam is ‘give respect and save water’. The first part of the production starts with depicting the myth that god Varuna has brought water to the Earth. Various moods of water such as its calmness, romance and love are depicted through a narrative method which interweaves myth and reality. In the second part, the transformation from myth to reality happens where the misuse of water by the present world is portrayed.  The demon, when it appears, is a symbolic representation of those who contaminate water. The destruction of life due to the scarcity of pure water and the water being contaminated is depicted. The aftermath of this is the Pralayam (all-destroying flood) by the angered water.

Justin McCarthy has choreographed three new ensemble pieces in Bharatanatyam. He says, “With the advent of mechanised documentation, the last century of dance is partially visible to us.  This production uses imagination to speculate on the place of dance in pre-democratic society, in non-public entertainment and in the natural environment.”

The first piece focusses on ritual processions used to magnify the glory of spiritual and temporal rulers.  The dancers parade through an imaginary south Indian town three times — the first time praising a god and a goddess, the second time praising a south Indian king and the third time praising a queen from faraway lands. The ending leaves the dancers wondering about hierarchies in general. The texts used are Sanskrit verses from Adishankaracharya’s Ardhanarishwara stotram, Tamil verses from Ilango Adigal’s Silappadikaaram and English verses from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.

The second piece, is set somewhere in South India in the 1920’s. A well-heeled gentlemen pays a visit to his beloved dancing girls in the evening. The third piece, is set in both mythical and real time where the protagonists are sitting simultaneously on the banks of the beloved Yamuna of yore and driving along the banks of the beleaguered Yamuna of today. This piece uses a variety of texts — Sanskrit verses from Jayadeva’s Gitagovindam, English verses from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, anonymous English fragments, lists of chemicals and scientific reports on the quality of Yamuna water.

The final ballet is presented by Kadamb that has emerged as one of the finest dance institutions in the country. Choreographed by Kathak legend Kumudini Lakhia, movement and still includes aakar — a structure of the fabric of Kathak technique, designed to create patterns in space and time; Dhamar — an obeisance to the gods in heaven; Padhant — the dancers recite the original bols of Kathak  and Tarana — choreographed to the music composed and sung by Madhup Mudgal

Writer: Shobha Deepak Singh

Courtesy : The Pioneer

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