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STORIES TOLD THROUGH THE MAGIC OF RHYTHM

Rhythm and its magic can be felt everywhere, from human heartbeats to the beauty of nature. Rhythm was the essence of the evening during the programme where the eminent Kathak maestro, Birju Maharaj, performed. He said, “Rhythm is god”. The show was presented by Emami at Kalamandir recently; Birju Maharaj and Sivamani, the prince of percussion, mesmerized the audience with their magical duet.

The evening began with Birju Maharaj’s solo recital with Sabir Khan on the tabla. He chose teental, which is his favourite, and moved forward through a conversation between the tabla and the ghungroo. He started off with a bhajan written by the artist himself followed by the thaat, ginti and tihai, the usual numbers of the traditional Kathak repertoire. The 76-year-old maestro, with his usual spirit and amazing understanding of the art form, converted abstract, mathematical counting into concrete stories which people enjoyed deeply. From a man’s journey through life to the flight of birds, from the gestures of two lovers to making a garland and sewing, all of these were vividly painted through his ginti and footwork. Maharajji transcended the grammar of dance with his versatility and created a colourful canvas through his aesthetic vision.

Sivamani appeared with his elaborate drum set-up and started playing various instruments, including a suitcase, a jar and a steel container. Sivamani’s solo performance was followed by a group presentation by Birju Maharaj’s sons, Deepak Maharaj and Jaikishen Maharaj, cousins Krishna Mohan Maharaj and Ram Mohan Maharaj, and his disciple, Saswati Sen. Birju Maharaj played the tabla and joined them all at the end. Sivamani played on, creating a seamless combination of pure classical and contemporary music. The dancers were accompanied by Debasish Sarkar, Chandrachur Bhattacharya and Umesh Misra.

The Alliance Française du Bengale, the Institut Français in Delhi and the Rabindranath Tagore Centre of the ICCR in Calcutta presented Cette Immense Intimité at the open-air ICCR compound. Two well known companies, Rhythmosaic from India and Retouramont from France, performed.

The show began with a piece called On The Run. It depicted the truth of people searching for stability through instability. The piece was choreographed by Mitul Sengupta and performed by the artists of the Rhythmosaic dance company under the leadership of Prasanna Saikia. The second offering was a vertical dance performed on the wall; it was the most striking, exotic presentation. It was performed by the contemporary aerial artist, Olivia, who used the spring and the force of the momentum from the wall. This was perhaps the first time that such a vertical dance was performed in Calcutta. The entire act was choreographed and controlled by Fabrice.