tapati chowdurie reports on an enchanting evening of dance
ESPLANADE Sparsh, a non-government voluntary welfare organisation run by Manipuri dancer Suman Sarawgi, is helping to impart dance training to the less fortunate free of cost. At a recent function, it presented a beautiful evening of dance in four different styles at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Kolkata.
Bharatnatyam dancer Rajdeep Banerjee – a master&’s degree-holder from Rabindra Bharati university — presented a collection of dances, nomenclatured “Sphuran” — an expression of the spark within human beings. It endeavoured to celebrate divine energy and the dances choreographed were about Shiva, symbolising consciousness, the masculine principle and Shakti, symbolising the feminine principle, activating power and energy.
Schooled in the Kalakshetra style of Bharatanatyam and presently under the guidance of guru Ganga Tampia, a stalwart choreographer, Banerjee has developed his own style. The script was by Aindrisha Mitra, Barnali Ghoshal was in charge of the costumes, while the concept and choreography was Banerjee&’s very own.
Kalamandalam Gautam learnt Kathakali from Kalamandalam Govindan Kutty for eight long years before going for his actual graduation from Kerala Kalamandalam, where he learnt from illustrious gurus.   
Kalamandalam Gautam — Kalamandalam is a prestigious  title conferred on those who graduate from the Kerala Kalamandalam —  presented Margam. In a 30-minute duration, he attempted to show the different aspects of a traditional Kathakali repertoire, starting from pure rhythm-based pieces to traditional plays rich in acting. He and his students presented, in a collage Todayam, Puguti Purappadu, Sari and Kummi, and the play Putana Moksham, the last depicting the annihilation of the demoness Putana, a typical highly dramatic piece where Gautam in streevesham first described the beauty of the Ambadi puram before beckoning the child Krishna, the beautiful Nandakumara, in order to nurse him.
The expression of Vatsalya ras soon turns into the expression of death pangs when the infant Krishna sucks out her life breath from her poisoned breasts. Though shown in a nutshell, Gautam was able to emote in the true nature of a Kathakali artist. His students, Sayak, Koushik, Utsav, Proloy, Neeloy, Dibendu, Papia, Joyeeta and Gargi, who took part, are in different stages of perfection. Neatness in costumery could have been improved, though. Suman Sarawgi has been trained in all the four aspects of Manipuri dance style — Lai Haroaba, Thang-ta, Sankirtana and Rasleela under Priti Patel. She has left no stone unturned to hone her skills in the different aspects of Manipuri dance. Since 1994, she has visited Manipur every year and has imbibed the intricacies of the art form from Ojha Th, Babu Singh, Kh Thoranisabi Devi and Lokendrajit Singh and has also learnt Manipuri singing from  L Bino Devi.
Sarawgi&’s conception of Mati was praiseworthy. It was conceptualised as the eternal womb, in the typical Manipuri style, approach and method. By using the Lai-Haraoba technique, he showed the relationship between humans and mati or earth. People pay their homage to mother earth, who has given them birth and provided them with their livelihood.
“Obsessions, Compulsions and Myself was choreographed by Saurabh Sureka. The piece dealt with the inevitable obsessions that each human has. It was a contemporary piece that dealt with people stuck in a cobweb and tried to showcase “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder patients”. The treatment of the theme was rather shallow and lacked in beauty.
Debashree Bhattacharya, who trained in Kathak under Rani Karnaa, is an A-grade solo artist for Calcutta Doordarshan and is registered with the ICCR and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre. She has performed for a number of prestigious institutions, including the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi and Kathak Kendra, Delhi, and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai. She has also performed in Qatar, Bhutan, the UK and Kuwait. Bhattacharya holds a Sangeet Prabhakar in Kathak from the Prayag Sangit Samiti, Allahabad, teaches dance at Mahadevi Birla Girls’ World Academy, Kolkata, and also heads Ranan&’s Kathak training wing – Brindar. Her teaching experience extends to workshops for dancers and non-dancers in India and abroad. Co-founder of Ranan in 2004, Debashree is a Ranan Core Group and Repertory member. A beautiful and graceful dancer, she presented a solo programme recently at Gyan Manch, Kolkata.
The first dance performed was to the Rabindrasangeet, “Nrivrito praner debota”, choreographed by Bharatanatyam dancer Vandana Alase Hazra. It was a devotional piece full of inner meaning. The poet tells himself, “Oh devotee, lay bear the core of the heart where dwells the Almighty – today I will see Him. I wander all around looking for Him. I have not learnt to give my offerings at dusk. With the light of your life I shall light the lamp of my life.”
After a good start, Debasree explored Kathak intraforms in teen taal-16 beat rhythm; she did upaj, thaat, paran, amad, parmilu, tora, paran chakradar, tihai, lari, kavit and gath bhav, both in vilambit and drut laya, in the tradition of guru-shishya parampara. She is a disciple of the illustrious Rani Karnaa.
Chatushpadi Chakradharan followed soon after. Thematic and expressional in character, it portrayed the charms of Krishna. As a lover, says the poet, he surpasses even Kamdeva, the God of Love.
The sun and moon cannot equal his grace too. Aajar Krishna Ko Ang was a composition by Nrityacharya Narayan Prasad that was further embellished by Rahimuddin Khan Dagar. This piece sought to capture the might of Krishna on the battlefield. As he set out to wield the famed chakra “Sudarshan”, we are told, the earth itself trembled and the heavens spat fire. Chakradharan was composed by Professor SK Saxena and choreographed by Rani Karnaa.