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Cosmic dance of Siva and a Kathak seminar gave an impression of the cultural ethos of India. A review by Manjari Sinha

The Neemrana Music Foundation and Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra (SBKK) presented Samudra from Kerala, performing the Cosmic Dance of Siva at Kamani auditorium last week. The solemn evening, dedicated to the memory of late Francis Waziag, the co-founder of Neemrana Music Foundation, who passed away recently, opened with Aman Nath and Waziag’s daughter offering tribute to the departed soul and his passionate involvement with his work that must go on.
 The Kerala duo Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev of Samudra, traditionally trained Bharatanatyam dancers and experts in Kalaripayattu, have evolved Samudra Natanam, a unique dance style deriving energy from India’s cultural ethos. Striving to construct an alternate vocabulary for dance, they call it an encounter between body and soul, dance and music, tradition and modernity. Both of them believe that muscles and movements convey Bhava and Rasa as much as the face and hand gestures do.
 The powerful Cosmic Dance of Siva was structured like a series of vignettes woven together, describing various aspects of Shiva. Opening with the auspicious Shankh-Nada and chants evoking the Swayambhu, the self-created Shiva-linga, the sattvika (serene) form of Shiva based on raga Shankara set to the Dhrupad style Chautala on Pakhaawaj, the divine energy charged the atmosphere from the very beginning. Sensuality then emerges exploring His romantic mood with lasya in a masculine grace traversing ragas like Madhyamaavathi in "Mahadevaaya Shambho Mahakalaya namah…" to Shyam Kalyaan and Darbari while interpreting His Ardhanreeswara roop that shows the union of the male and female ie Shakti contained within Shiva. A celebration of His different moods, and various Bhavas like anger, joy and sensuality are explored in the concluding Ananda-Tandava the vigorous Dance, where Shiva is depicted as destroyer the ultimate crucible of cosmic energy. 
 Thus the Cosmic Dance if Siva symbolized the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, the rhythm of birth and death where the body becomes the spirit. Along with the dynamic dancers Madhu and Vakkom, who conceived choreographed and directed the Cosmic Dance of Siva, other dancers were Deepa M S, Deepu B, Lithin Raj, Lithi Raj, Aneesh Soman, and Sandeep. The music was composed by Pandit Ramesh Narayan and the light designing was by Jose Koshy.
 Kathak: The Opportunity Ahead, a two day seminar was organised at the Kathak Kendra, on 25 and 26 February by the Kri Foundation as part of Nirantar, the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Kathak Kendra. After the opening remarks by Dr Arshiya Sethi on the inaugural day Shanta Sarbjeet Singh, vice-chairman Sangeet Natak Academi and Chairperson Kathak Kendra’s Advisary Committee spoke on the Vision and reiterated that opportunity is one side of the coin while hard work and commitment was the other.
 Dr Bharat Gupta spoke on the Indian concept of performance Shastra aur Prayog in the next session with discussant Prerana Shrimali. The State of the Arts was the topic for the next session dealt in detail by Rajika Puri (USA) and Neha Bhatnagar before the first day of the seminar concluded with a very beneficial talk on Nutrition for the Dancing Body by Dr Ishi Khosla, the renowned authority on nutrition with discussants Savitri Ramaiya dancer and medical expert and Gayatri.
 The second day of the seminar opened with a very informative talk for the Kathak students and enthusiasts on How to keep the body healthy and injury free by Dr Bharatinder Singh. Raising resources for the Arts: CSR and the new Corporate Bill was the topic for the next session by Vivek Mansukhani, Arun Sahay and Dr. K.K. Upadhyay with Dr Arshitya Sethi as discussant.
 Poetry and Performance the Global Context was the most interesting session with Ashok Vajpeyi speaking and interacting with the students and Rasikas of Kathak, before Dr Kapila Vatsyayan delivered the valedictory address to conclude the two day seminar. Dr Arshiya Sethi, Managing trustee of Kri Foundation and Sushmita Ghosh, director of Kathak Kendra proposed the vote of thanks.