| Kalavati Devi performs during the festival. Picture by Eastern Projections |
The second day of the recently concluded festival of classical dance, Nritya Mahotsav, that began on March 21, was marked by a scintillating performance by Kalavati Devi, a living legend of Manipuri dance.
Her performance provided the audience with a rare and splendid opportunity to enjoy an excellent recital of the dance form.
The danseuse, who is the head of the Manipuri dance department at Rabindra Bharati University in Calcutta, began her hourlong recital with Basak Sajjika, an excerpt from the age-old art form of Manipur called Basak Phangnaba. It is performed exclusively by women while singing and enacting the eight moods of the heroine.
Elegant and versatile, Kalavati Devi began the item with the description of Radha decorating herself for a meeting with Krishna. The dancer’s subtle hand and feet movements highlighted the delicatebeauty of Manipuri dance.
Her next item, Khandita, based on a piece from Jaydev’s Geet Govindam, was also a rich presentation of nrityabhinaya. It depicted Radha’s feeling of dejection at Krishna’s failure to meet her at the scheduled time.
The third item, Tanum, was a pure dance number profusely used in Raas leela. Kalavati Devi’s expertise in expressing the lasya in this item was fascinating.
She concluded her recital with Anangakshep, a passionate visual narration of Radha’s agony at being separated from Krishna.
On the third day of the festival, Ranjana Gauhar, an outstanding Odissi danseuse who has so far performed in over 25 countries, proved her class in the very first item, Shiv Bandana.
The composition was based on a poem by Raja Swati Thirumal in Raga Asavari set to Khemta taal.
With her stunningly expressive eyes and face, complimented by effortless movement of the feet, she held the audience spellbound.
Her next item was Astapadi, based on a fascinating piece from Jaydev’s Geet Govindam — Sakhi re keisi mathan mudaram. Enacting Radha’s longing for a meeting with Krishna, Gauhar brilliantly portrayed the finer nuances of the inner feelings of an abhisarika.
It was a performance that will be long remembered.
The three-day festival, held at Rabindra Bhawan from March 21 to 23 under the auspices of Sangeet Natak Akademi and the state directorate of cultural affairs, was unique in terms of the variety of dance forms and the elite status of the artistes.
The scintillating performance by Deepti Omchery Bhalla (Mohiniattam) and Sunayana Hazarilal (Kathak) on the opening day was reviewed by The Telegraph on March 27.