Society for Action through Music (SAM) presented Dargahi Mishra Memorial Seminar and Music and Dance Festival at the Lok Kala Manch recently with Kathak and Bharatanatyam  performances byIndian classical dancers based abroad. Guru Jitendra Maharaj inaugurated the seminar and Pt Vijay Shankar Mishra candidly introduced the speakers with reference to the papers they were going to present. The key note address was delivered by Madhu Shukla from Allahabad and this critic from Delhi. The other speakers were Vidushi Kamalini, Akankshi Verma Khairagarh, Anamika Kumari from Varanasi, Ambika Kashyap from Haryana, Shikha Shukla from Lucknow, Anuradha Banerji from Faridabad, Shraddha and Ashmita Mishra from Delhi.  A book Kathak: Kal Aaj aur Kal by Shikha Shukla, published by Kanishka Prakashan, was also released on this occasion. 

US-based Kathak dancer Arti Manek opened the evening on the second day of the two-day festival. A regular performer, teacher and choreographer, Arti is a senior disciple of Guru Abhay Shankar Mishra. She is also the administrator of Shankara Dance Academy in the US, which is affiliated to Prayag Sangeet Samiti. Opening her Kathak recital with Ganesh Vandana, adorned with Ganesh Kavitta, set in Misra Chhand, she performed Thaat, Aamad, Tukde, Paran and Chakkardar Tihayee with full confidence. Arti was accompanied by a live orchestra lead by her Guru Pt Abhay Shankar Mishra on Pakhawaj.  Sahana Balasubramanya, the young Bharatanatyam dancer from the US came next and performed on recorded music. Sahana has mastered her art under Gurus like Saroja Vaidyanathan. Rama Vaidyanathan and Anuradha Venkataraman and is at present in charge of the Bharatanatyam class at the Vanderbilt Dance Program in the US. Opening her brilliant performance with “Sakala Kala Vaniye…” in praise of Goddess Saraswati composed in raga Dwijavanthi and Talam Adi by Dwaraki Krishnaswamy, Sahana treated it as a full fledged Varnam replete with Jatis and Teermanams. Her Angashudhhi and rhythmic command were commendable throughout her recital that concluded with a Tillana composed by Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan in Raga Desh, set to Adi Talam. 

A short performance with Shiv Stuti and Kalavati Tarana by the young Abhinav Mishra preceded her mother Kakoli Shankar Mishra&’s performance that brought the evening to its climax. A dedicated disciple of Pt Birju Maharaj, Kakoli is based in London, teaching and performing Kathak. She has earned repute as a conceptual choreographer as well. Kakoli opened her performance with Durga Stuti, elaborating the nine different aspects of Devi worshiped as Nav-Durga, concluding with Ardhanarishwara. Starting with the crisp foot-work in Teen tala, she went on to present the technical aspect of the Kathak repertoire like the Thaat, Uthaan, Paran-Aamad and Chakkardar et al with finesse. She also performed special compositions of Jaipur Gharana in Drut Teentala. 

The presence of esteemed Gurus like Pt Birju Maharaj, Guru Geetanjali Lal, Guru Urmila Nagar, Guru Jitendra Maharaj, Nalini-Kamalini and a host of famous names from the classical music and dance world made the evening quite special. 

Sursagar Society of Dilli Gharana&’s Wajood Repertory presented an evening of Dastangoi, storytelling, at the Stein auditorium of the India Habitat Centre during their two-day festival to welcome the New Year. The first story Dastan Pandit ki was presented in the hilarious style of Dastangoi by Nadeem Shah Suhrawardy and Shankar Musafir but the second one Rudaad-e-Shireen, a Celebration of Womanhood, was a musical story, based on the compositions of Hazrat Ameer Khusro performed by the talented Vusat Iqbal, Bhawna, Anju, Mohena, Yashpreet and Rajnandini.  

Rudaad-e-Shireen sensitively put across the story of a woman named Shireen, her plight, struggle, tribulations and ultimately triumph in overcoming the obstacles that come her way towards attaining her own identity. The theme touched pertinent issues like child marriage, the struggles of women in a patriarchal society, the social taboos which a woman faces…all expressed through the compositions of Amir Khusro. The compositions of Khusro from the sarcastic “E sakhi Sajan? Na sakhi dhol…” to wedding songs like “Aaj naval Banna Banari ko munbaaraq, Banara byaahan aaya…” and the Vidai geet “Kahe ko byahee bides…” were strewn beautifully to etch a poignant story. 

Vusat not only conceived the impressive show but also presented it touchingly as a talented storyteller. The concept, dress and light designing, the projection of the immortal paintings of Raja Ravi Varma to create the ambience and highlight the human emotions; in fact, the overall production deserves kudos.