The Telegraph
Saturday , June 7 , 2014


Indian classical dance needs rigorous training and practice. It has strict rhythms that one must master in order to be a commendable dancer. Young learners get bored with routine practice, and it is getting increasingly difficult for good institutions to retain serious students. Furthermore, shortcuts for the sake of stage presentations lead to superficial training, which eventually results in the degeneration of the dance form.

To overcome this difficulty, Sharmila Biswas — a brilliant dancer, choreographer and teacher — along with her institution, OVM, created a unique training programme which strengthens stage performance and general awareness. OVM’s annual programme, The Dance We Dance, at Tollygunge Club, reflected their unique training and presentation (picture). The evening began with an item by the juniormost students, who showcased their eye and body movements, and the basic stances of Odissi like chauk, tribhangi and bhramari, in a group item. Under the guidance of Jhinuk Nag, an OVM member, the little learners proved that dance is the most pleasing medium for communication.

Classical dance is a composite art. It combines yoga, movement skills, rhythm, music, drama and other elements. “Sthiti” was such an item, where yoga and basic Odissi movements were nicely choreographed. The most striking feature of the programme was the earnest involvement and enjoyment of each member of the repertory. It proved that the OVM’s method was successful. The popular folk dance from Odisha was enjoyable; the Shambalpuri folk dance performed by people from the NGO, Shaili, was vibrant. Neelay Sengupta designed the elegant costumes; Dinesh Poddar did the lights.

The Niharika Centre for Performing Arts celebrated their 20th anniversary at the ICCR recently. Inspired by the shlokam from the Natyashastra, Trayam Ucchyate Sangeetam was the title of the show. Dance, songs and instrumental music were combined through choreography. Conceived and choreographed by the sincere Bharatnatyam dancer, Arkadev Bhattacharya, the show had performances based on Rabindrasangeet.

According to the Natyashastra, there are four kinds of instruments — string, metal, wind and hollow. The evening witnessed four separate pieces of choreography based on the manjira, the veena, the flute and percussion. The concept was novel and the research was meticulous. The show began with “Dui hate kaler mandira je” followed by “Baje baje ramyabina”. The earnest dancers looked elegant in their brilliant costumes. However, sometimes the choreography seemed unnecessarily complicated. But the unique attempt was praiseworthy. Sounak Chattopadhyay and Rohini Roychowdhury did justice to the songs.