Odissi Ashram presented Ek Odissi Sandhya recently. Apart from solo, duet and group dances, Rabindranath Tagore&’s Natir Puja, choreographed by the artistic director of Odissi Ashram, Guru Giridhari Nayek was also presented. The evening was so long that by the time it got round to Natir Puja, just a handful were present in the auditorium. OP Bharati, director of Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre graced the occasion as chief guest.

Sujata Nayek performed a solo piece from Jaydeva&’s Geet Govind called Sakhi he kesi mathana udaram, a Prabhanda in malava gauda rag and ektali tala. 

In the narrative, Radha is in a bower with a friend and tearfully tells her how much she loves Krishna. She recalls a blissful evening she spent with her lover Krishna and her friend to somehow make those magical times come back. It was a treat to see Sujata Nayek essay the role of Nayika Radha as aesthetically pleasing expressions marked her performance. It was choreographed by Giridhari Nayek who accompanied her on the mardala. 

On the other hand, Ahana Bose rendered Shiv Tandava Pallavi but one feels, she needs to polish her style before venturing to perform a solo piece. Sumedha Sengupta, a senior student of Giridhari Nayek rendered an abhinaya piece Tolagi Gopa Danda, which is an Odia Bhajan choreographed by the Guru himself. Her rendition of the piece was pleasing.

Among the young Kathakas of these times, the name of Ritusri Chaudhury shines brightly. A versatile artist who has been trained by Madhumita Roy and subsequently by Pandit Birju Maharaj — the doyen of Kathak — as well as the late Pandit Chitresh Das. Her previous productions like Vasana, Manan, Aavahan and Tanu Tantra have run to full houses.

Recently she presented Aradhika — a dance theatre — at Gyan Manch with much fanfare. In it, has traced the journey of Radha from a woman to a Devi. The piece explored Radha&’s solitude and depicted her pain as she had met her beloved only once. Through her devotion, Radha&’s love for Krishna got transformed into spiritual love.

According to Chaudhury, Radha never wanted to be the Goddess of Love but rather personified a devotee waiting for her lord. Her life, which was full of pathos and melancholy, transformed her into a devotee of Krishna. The departure of Krishna to Mathura and her physical separation from him was the reason behind their spiritual union. The voyage from Radha to Aradhika may be described as a journey of transformation. 

The dance-theatre Aradhika was made rich with the different nuances of Kathak. The music was rendered with the influence of various Hindusthani ragas in all its different forms like alap, dhrupad, khayal, thumri, bhajan, and kirtan. Composer Shirshendu Mukherjee did a marvellous job in not only making the most appropriate music for a sensitive subject of this nature, but was also the vocalist along with Nabanita Ghosh andSritama Banerjee. The supporting artists who facilitated the successof the progrmme were Arindam Chakraborty, Deep Shankar Bhattacharjee, Sudip Chatterjee, Umesh Misra and Alap Sardar on the tabla, sitar, flute, sarangi and synthesizer respectively. The dancers Rhea Dawn, Aaheli Chakraborty, Reshmi Mitra, Debaruna Sengupta and Arpita Maity were all in their best form and served the Lucknow gharana of Kathak quite well. Gautam Bhattacharya who is a name to be reckoned with enhanced the value of the programme with his out-of-the-world lighting designs.

On the other hand, Odissi dancer Arpita Venkatesh — a disciple herself of Central Sangeet Natak Akademi recipient, Aloka Kanungo — presented some talented disciples of her training institute Malasree at Aban Mahal. The first piece was Bandha Nritya, which is an interesting segment from the dance of Gotipuas. It comprises acrobatic yogic postures and refers to mythological scenes from the life of Krishna. They are similar to the visual presentations by the Patachitra artists of Odisha. The poses are quite intricate and require immense suppleness of the limbs to be executed. 

Live music consisted of Pakhwaj by Bamdev Biswal and vocal music by Dinesh Paul. Vandita Venkatesh, Neetika Maitra, Niranjana Ghosh and Ridita Paul made the critical stance formations. The piece received a great deal of audience appreciation. 

Arpita Venkatesh also choreographed a beautiful piece of dedicatory dance to Goddess Saraswati. The rich architectural poses of the Goddess found on temple walls were brought alive to the sloka, Ya Kundendu Tusharoharo dhabala ya suvra bastrabrita. Himanshu Swain and Budhanath Swain composed the music.

In another presentation, Moumita, Nandita, Rinku, Manjima, Madhurima and Chandrima performed Yog Pallavi composed in rag yog. It was a pure dance item in which rag yog was elaborated through eye movements, body postures and intricate footwork. Pallavi literally means blossoming and that is applicable not only to the dance but also to the music, which accompanies it. The dance started with slow, graceful and lyrical movements of the eyes, neck, torso and feet, which slowly built into a crescendo for the climax. Both the dance and the music evolved in complexity as the performers traced multiple patterns in space, interpreting the music dexterously in the multi-layered dimensions of taal (rhythm) and laya (speed).