Bhav Shringar, the institute of Odissi Dance at Salt lake and Newtown, presented the seventh edition of its annual dance recital in Nazul Tirtha, Newtown recently. Odissi dancer Kavita Mishra, the founder of Bhav Shringar, and her students presented a beautiful evening of Odissi to dance lovers. Sangita Gosain, chief executive officer, Odissi Research Centre, Bhubaneswar was the chief guest of the function.
The performances consisted of a wide range of Odissi classical dance pieces, which were pure and magnificent. Traditional dance pieces were finely interwoven with exquisite folk dances of India in order to break monotony and give the evening a wealth of colour and a variety of form. The high point of the evening was the presentation of the dance drama Shrishti Stithi Pralay (creation, preservation and destruction of the universe). In the creative piece choreographed by Kavita Mishra, she along with her repertory members performed an engaging dance drama that will remain etched in people’s minds for a long time. The music was composed by Sangita Gosain who is richly talented.
The offering of the first segment of the evening consisted of a garland of pure Odissi dances. The first one, Mangalacharan was performed in praise of Gananatha and Jagannatha and composed by the doyen of Odissi, Kelucharan Mohapatra. In the context of the classical arts, Bharat Muni in his Natya Sashtra had envisaged dancing, singing and playing of instruments as intricately interwoven — the three together makes sangeeta (music). The raga of Mangalacharan was Bhima Palasi sung in the ektali rhythm and of course, it was to the accompaniment of several instruments and with the sound of the mardala, the unique percussion instrument of Odisha. VasantPallavipresented by Mishra’s students was also choreographed by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. Pallavi involved the elaboration of ragaVasantthrough dance. Both the blossoming of the dance as well as the raga are the special characteristics of a Pallavi, which was rendered passionately by young aspirants.
Mishra has imbibed more than one master’s style of Odissi. Three of the pure dances performed in the first segment were in the well-known and remarkable style of Guru Pankaj Charan Das. Two distinct dances on Sthayeewere performed by two groups with no repetitions whatsoever. The abhinaya piece, Radha Rani was also composed by the genius, Guru Pankaj Charan Das. A lyrical piece between Radha and Krishna, along with the gopis, by the talented and well-groomed students of Mishra enthralled the audience.
India is rich in its cultural heritage. It is not only famous for its stylised classical traditional dances but has a plethora of folk dances unique to the different geographical areas of the country. The second segment of the evening started with the unsophisticated and spontaneous dances of rural India. The rural folks of Odisha dance Sambalpuri folk for each of their festivals that take place throughout the year. Usually, people gather before Ma Samblaeswari to sing and dance with ecstasy, expressing their simple joys and sorrows. Dressed in the unique fashion of village damsels, the dancers performed Sambalpuri folk to regale an appreciative audience.
Garba and Dandiya of Gujarat followed soon after. This was in praise of their deity Amba. The girls transformed into village lasses and danced with gay abandon. Performing Lavani of Maharashtra is not easy. Lavani is the unique culture of a sect, which consist of a matriarchal people of Maharashtra. However, the disciples of Kavita attempted a Lavani, which actually did not live up to the mark of the rich dance as it exists in pockets of Maharashtra. With a vibrant Bhangra number of Punjab this segment was brought to a close. Our folk dances are rich and a perfect production of these with their local nuances and colour, need careful study so that they become worthy of presentation to get people acquainted with the culture of the country.This attempt was just a very brief peek into the vast body of the folk dances of India.
Mishra leaves no stone unturned to properly groom her students into Odissi. Her students rendered Ganesh Vandana, which they learnt from veteran Odissi dancer Aloka Kanungo. The next presentation was sthayinritta battuin praise of the cosmic dancer Shiva. Through a series of cultural poses and friezes that exist in temples of Odisha, performers ably brought out the inter-relationship between Odissi and temple sculptures. A part of the dance was performed as a mirror image to give the impression that dancers performed in front of a mirror.
Mishra’s senior most student, Rupsha took up the astapadi, Hari riha mughdabadhu from poet Jayadeva’s Geet Govinda where she described the mischievousness of Krishna and the innate desire of Radha and the gopis to be united with Krishna.
However, Shrishti Stithi Pralay was the grand finale of the evening. The composition was collated from various Vedic scriptures and brought together by Gosain, who is a scholar and an excellent vocalist. The story of the creation of Swaymbhu Brahma, who became Vishnu, the preserver, subsequently to become Shiva, the destroyer, was brilliantly depicted. Hiranyagarbha Sutra for the completion of one cycle on Earth formed the essence of this piece. The topic was dealt with as much detail as was necessary for the dance drama. Mishra herself, who is an excellent Odissi dancer, was in it rendering aesthetically appealing Odissi with supreme grace.