Dancing away to divinity
Spread over April 28 and 29, the festival included a film screening, a seminar and a bouquet of four varied dance performances to charm those present.
The festival, in its sixth year now, was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Sangeet Natak Akademi, NTPC and UNESCO at the IIC.
Speaking on the occasion, Natya Vriksha founder-director dancer Geeta Chandran said, “The World Dance Day may be celebrated across the globe but it is special to India. Not only do people enjoy dancing here but even the Gods patronise this art.
We have many different and yet equally impressive, dance forms here, ranging from temple classical to tribal and now also contemporary. India is the abode of dance. I feel it is essential to continue encouraging youngsters interested in learning this art and keeping our heritage alive for centuries to come.”
In the spirit of Geeta’s words, the festival began with the screening of Lasya Kavya - this year’s National Award winner in the best Art and Culture Film category, based on the life of acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer Alarmel Valli.
This 80 minute long film directed by Sankalp Meshram, gave an inspiring narration on Alarmel’s passion for dance through the voices of her fans - the greatest being Zubin Mehta, India’s best known Western classical music composer.
This was followed by an enchanting Kathakali performance by this year’s Sangeet Natak Akademi ‘Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ awardee Kalamandalam Amaljith supported by Deepa Ramakrishnan. They presented an episode from Bhagwat Puran called Daksh Yagam.
In this piece, Daksh and his wife, in Sringar ras, go to bathe in a river and the queen spots a beautiful conch shell resting on a lotus flower. Daksh goes to fetch it for her and as soon as he lifts the conch, it turns into beautiful baby girl Sati. Amaljith as Daksh showed extraordinary grace as a hero in love who then becomes the father of a child.
The second day of the fest began with a mesmerising Bharatanatyam performance by young dancers Satyapriya Iyer and Christopher Gurusamy from Kalakshetra- the renowned school of dance in Chennai.
They presented a varnam in ragam Anand Bhairavi. In the varnam the dancers portrayed the pain of the nayika on being separated from her Lord with typical Kalakshetra precision. Their tillana was the ‘dance of joy’ and a fitting conclusion to their presentation.
Lastly, Monisa Nayak presented Kathak in the Jaipur gharana style showcasing the finer aspects of teen taal layakari and abhinaya to a ghazal.
On a concluding note, Geeta expressed, “Such festivals provide young dancers with a valuable opportunity to present their art. I am glad Natya Vriksha is serving that purpose through gala events and people are encouraging youngsters by coming to witness their accomplishments.”