It was heartening to see Ashimbandhu Bhattacharya, a senior Kathak dancer and choreographer, present two other dancers to propagate the Indian classical dance form. His institution, the Upasana Centre for Dance, in association with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, organized Pravahaman, an evening of dance at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre of the ICCR on April 4.
The programme, which was divided into two parts, began with a mangalacharan rendered by Srijan Chattopadhyay. It was followed by a Mohiniattam recital by Neena Prasad from Trivandrum. This was Prasad’s first performance in Calcutta. She has also mastered Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathakali. The dancer, who had a pleasing stage presence, started her performance with a Ganesh stuti, followed by “Amrapali”, an abhinaya number. She has worked earnestly and hard under the guidance of Kalamandalam Kshemavathi, and has acquired the dance’s correct style. With her powerful expressions, she delineated the story of Amrapali in a convincing manner. However, the performance would have been more enjoyable if it had been a bit shorter.
Prasad’s next item was “Rati sukha sare”, an ashtapadi from Jayadeva’s Geetgovind, and it was the most remarkable presentation of her entire performance. Based on ragamalika and talamalika, her graceful movements and vivid expressions did justice to this number. Her interpretations and choreography were praiseworthy. She concluded her recital with a tillana. A classical dance performance depends greatly on the appropriate accompaniment. There was great support from Madhavam Nambupoothri (vocals), Ramesh Babu (mridangam) and S.R. Ramaswami (violin).
The second half of the programme began with a brilliant Kathak performance by Luna Poddar (picture). It began with the “Om namo Shivay”, a Shiva stuti, and Poddar moved forward through small, traditional Kathak pieces based on the vilambit teental. She used her extensive training, under maestros such as Vijay Shankar and Birju Maharaj, to showcase her sparkling footwork and speedy chakkars. An old thumri, based on the Raga Pilu, was Poddar’s next choice for abhinaya. Both pure dance and abhinaya came to her with great ease; this is a remarkable quality for a dancer. She also performed items on nine beats to maintain the variety of rhythm. But her costume could have been better. Poddar was accompanied by Biswajit Pal (tabla), Pratik Mukherjee (tabla), Debasish Sarkar (vocals), Jayanta Banerjee (sitar) and Umesh Mishra (sarangi).
Natyalok presented a dance recital by Swati Mahotsav at the ICCR to celebrate the birth anniversary of Maharaja Swati Tirunal. Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam and Bharatnatyam, along with a Karnatic vocal recital, were presented. The evening programme began with a putana moksham by the Kathakali dancer, Kalamandalam Goutam. Ayana Mukherjee (Kuchipudi), Priya Krishnadas (Mohiniattam) and Jayakrishnan K.M. (Bharatnatyam) took part in the programme. The performance of the putana moksham was too long, while the Kuchipudi and Mohiniattam presentations were average. The elegant Bharatnatyam dancer from Chennai deserves mention.