The Telegraph
Saturday , January 11 , 2014
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Each form of classical dance follows a sequence in its presentation. Odissi begins with an invocation that is followed by nritta or pure dance, known as pallavi. After the establishment of the grandeur of rhythm and movement comes nritya or abhinaya that narrates a story and ends with a climactic number. This four-part presentation resembles the traditional structure of a dance performance. But dance presentations often include contemporary elements. Chaturvidh epitomized the mix of the contemporary with the traditional. Conceived and choreographed by Sharmila Biswas and presented by her institution, Odissi Vision and Movement Centre, the programme was enjoyed by the audience that had gathered at the Satyajit Ray Auditorium in ICCR on December 9.

The presentation commenced with abahani, a ritualistic invocation, that was executed in the form of group choreography. The brightly attired dancers set the tone of the evening through their enthralling performance. Pallavis are an integral part of the Odissi exposition. With its melodious rendering and sculptural poses woven into a pure dance format, pallavi is always a treat. Biswas choreographed abartan bibartan in an imaginative manner. In this presentation, music and rhythm were of central importance but at the same time it depicted the flow of life through stylized forms. The dancers communicated the rhythmic harmony through their exquisite movements. However, a larger space was required to capture the true essence of this wonderful presentation.

Given her thorough grounding in Kelucharan Mahapatra’s technique, Biswas’s strict adherence to classical purity was the hallmark of all the performances. There was a solo presentation based on vatsalya bhava in which she portrayed the eternal sentiments of a mother. Her expression was spontaneous and vivid and the presentation mesmerizing.

The most striking presentation was maya manav, an abhinaya based on the golden deer episode from the Ramayan. The choreographer interpreted it as the perpetual human quest for the unattainable. Neeloy Sengupta and Saswati Garai Ghosh narrated the story in an impeccable manner. Garai Ghosh’s agile movements, exuberant energy and expressive eyes did justice to choreography in the truest sense of the term.

It was heartening to see the performances of Biswas’s students. They demonstrated that they have been taught well. The evening came to an end with murchhana, an element that depicted the ambience in community gatherings that help people escape the rigours of material life and find joy in spiritual evolution.

The artists were accompanied by Bijaya Kumar Barik (mardala), Rupak Kumar Parida (vocals), Ramesh Chandra Das (violin), Priti Ranjan Swain (flute) and Nandagopal Jana (manjira).