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SPIRITLESS BEAUTY

A variety of terms have emerged to define an experimental production. There are various forms of dance, such as classical and semi-classical dance, as well as folk and contemporary dance. Innovative presentations based on these various forms have been termed ballet, dance-theatre and dance-opera, while innovations with dance forms have been called creative, experimental, neo-classical and modern. Choreographers have the liberty to put traditional content into new dance forms and vice versa. They can also weave traditional content into traditional dance forms, as is seen in the classical dance style. Whatever the name, the success of a production depends on the strength of the script and the proper blending of different genres of dance, which will not only reflect a style but a way of thinking. Rai Krishna Padabali, a multi-media dance opera by Shatkahon, Nrityanchal (Bangladesh) and Sukalyan D Entourage — at the G.D. Birla Sabhaghar on December 11 — failed to capture the true spirit of the padabali and the philosophy of the immortal love shared by Radha and Krishna.

Written by Sheikh Hafizur Rahman from Bangladesh, the opera drew inspiration from the poet, Vidyapati, and from Rabindranath Tagore’s Bhanusingher Padabali. But the presentation was unpleasant on the ears, for it juxtaposed Rabindrasangeet with the frivolous lyrics of adhunik songs written by Rahman. The eloquent beauty of the songs from Bhanusingher Padabali was marred by Rahman’s superficial lyrics. The presentation was elaborate; it started from the lobby of the auditorium where kirtans were sung to create a proper ambience. There were lots of props, 25 gorgeous dancers from Bangladesh, dramatic lights, a screen for visuals at the backdrop and emotive narration. But none of these could salvage the spirit of the entire production.

Sukalyan Bhattacharya, whose horizon of dance was enriched by Manjusree Chaki Sarkar and further nurtured by Kalavati Devi, choreographed the entire production. He proved his training and experience in his only solo performance — “Shyam re nipata kathina mana tor” — as Bhanusingha. Shamim Ara Nipa looked beautiful as Radha; Krishna was portrayed by Shibli Muhammad. Haimanti Shukla and Manomoy Bhattacharya sang as Radha and Krishna, respectively. Rezwana Chowdhury Banya, Swagatalaxmi Dasgupta, Jayati Chakraborty and Indrani Sen sang with their usual flair while Soumitra Chatterjee and Bratati Bandyopadhyay touched hearts with their restrained elocution.

Preeti Patel, a dedicated, senior Manipuri dancer, and her troupe, Anjika, presented Ishano: The Black Swan, The Chosen One at Kala Mandir on November 24. Twenty performers, including live musicians, depicted the story about the power to break out of the stereotypes of ordinary existence. Flutes, drums, pena and cymbals were intelligently used to create a magical world of swans. Preeti Patel gracefully established herself as a black swan — a symbol of exception — that proves the importance of one’s inner strength.