The Uday Shankar Nrityotsav, which was held at Rabindra Sadan in December, provided a perfect opportunity for dancers to present various forms of their art. The week-long programme was organized to pay homage to the legendary maestro. Unfortunately, the organizers do not seem to have realized that bringing together diverse dance forms and different artists is not enough to pay tribute to this great man.
Among the participants, Ratikant and Sujata Mahapatra, Vikram Ayengar, Preeti Patel, Molly Roy as well as the dancers of the Ananda Shankar Centre for Performing Arts did justice to their reputation as performers of a very high standard. Apart from pallavi and a group choreography, Jatayu Moksha, a story from Tulsidas’s Ramcharitmanas, stood out for its blend of symphony, body movements and subtle expressions. Onkar, under the able guidance of veteran kathak dancer Malavika Mitra, presented Chhanda Parikrama, an interesting and layered composition. Mitra had chosen her dancers well, and her intricate balancing of the layakari was executed by her students to near perfection. Samanya kshati by Shanti Basu took one down the memory lane. Tabu mondo noi, presented by Chhandasi and choreographed by Ipshita Roy Sarkar, was dreary, to say the least. Hemanta Sraddhanjali, by the Satabdi Ballet Troupe, gave the audience a chance to listen to some old favourites such as Ami jharer kachhe rekhe gelam and Lajbati nupurer rinijhinijhini. Rajneeta Bannerjee, a talented Odissi dancer, proved her mettle in yugmadwanda pallavi, based on raga Bagesree and tala Chatusra Ektaali.
The performance of the 56 inmates of the Presidency and Midnapore Central Correctional Homes was thoroughly enjoyable. Choreographed by Alokenanda Roy, the show presented the theme of liberation through martial art and folk dance. Roy has succeeded in nurturing the performers’ talents, and her intelligent use of Chhou, Tagore songs and various folk forms from different regions was impressive. Dance seems to have brought back rhythm into the lives of these inmates. The limitations of the Uday Shankar Nrityotsav can be overlooked because of this one high point.