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BHARATNATYAM WITH BACH

Anantara Live attempted to present the timeless grace of Bharatnatyam at the beautifully illuminated poolside of Hyatt Regency, Calcutta, on October 30. The national-award-winning actress, acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer and Padma Shri, Shobhana (picture), along with her troupe, Kalarpana, presented choreographic numbers based on the Bharatnatyam style alongside some pure numbers.

The traditional inaugural number had speed, authentic movements and energy. Shobhana, in a black Bharatnatyam costume, looked gorgeous, while her troupe showed its mastery over the style through chiselled movements, neat mudras and clear footwork. The accompanying music enhanced the beauty of the presentation.

Next came varnam, the most intricate number of the Bharatnatyam repertoire a tribute to the black goddess, Kali. To depict the majesty of Kali and Durga, artificial smoke was unnecessary, and dampened the mood. While it is true that there are always possibilities of innovation within a given form, the essence of a particular style, on which the production is based, should be maintained. The next item was a string of three compositions. It was first set to Sufi music, followed by the Radha-Krishna episode, and finally, came Dashavatar, which lacked understanding. Bharatnatyam with the soulful tunes of Bach was the concluding and the most remarkable presentation of the evening. The rich and vigorous performance blended Bach and Bharatnatyam in a celebration of rhythm, tune, movements and patterns like tillana in the Bharatnatyam repertoire.

Weavers Studio Centre for the Arts and Akshaya Patra presented An Evening of Abhinaya by Aranyani Bhargava, at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR, on October 21. A disciple of the renowned Bharatnatyam dancer, Leela Samson, Aranyani started her recital with Angikam bhubanam yasya, a shlokam, followed by an alarippu in mishra chapu taal. With pleasing stage presence and in traditional costume, Aranyani performed whatever she has learnt. In spite of her proper eye movement, perfect hand position and rhythmic footsteps, the presentation lacked energy and emotion. She selected Hari riha mugdha, an ashtapadi from Geetgovindam, where she tried to portray the first pangs of love in a teenage girl. In order to explore a range of emotions, she developed a traditional kalakshetra piece of kirtanam and extended it in a captivating way. The evening came to an end with tillana, a familiar concluding number in Bharatnatyam.

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