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Kathak Kendra turns a glorious 50

Feb 6, 2014, DHNS : 20:32 IST

Classical moves

Kathak Kendra, the premier dance training institute of the country, couldn’t have celebrated its golden jubilee in a better way.

Kathak Mahotsava – the three-day annual festival of the institute – turned into a star-studded event as the who’s who of Kathak in India came together in Delhi to perform at the big event. Gauri Diwakar, Monisa Nayak, Shovana Narayan, Prerana Shrimali, Rajendra Kumar Gangani and several more set the Kamani Auditorium reverberating with their moves as Kathak Kendra celebrated 50 years of its existence.

Every year, Kathak Mahotsava is dedicated to one eminent guru of the institute (last year, it was in the memory of late Pandit Ravi Shankar), but this time they traced the history of Kathak Kendra through the works of all its gurus and even some illustrious students. On the joyous occasion, Director, Kathak Kendra, Sushmita Ghosh remarked, “We felt this is an appropriate juncture to remember the masters who have enriched our Kendra during our five-decade long journey which started with a small team of stalwarts including Guru Shambhu Maharaj, Guru Sundar Prasad and Pandit Birju Maharaj, to name a few.”

“Nirantar, that is eternal, is the defining aspect of our golden jubilee festivities. It exemplifies the nirantar aspect of Kathak, capturing continuous, flowing and age-old traditions and presenting them afresh and advanced,” added Dr Arshiya Sethi, curator of the festival. Even as performances continued inside the auditorium, a beautiful photo collage of all the directors of Kathak Kendra till date, starting right from Maheshwar Dayal (1964-66), was put on display outside. Short notes explained their contribution to the Kendra as well as Kathak.

Inside, Gauri Diwakar and Monisa Nayak of the Jaipur gharana heralded the festival with an invocatory Vishnu stuti followed by Teentaal and Thumri. Their pure nritta (technical aspects of Kathak) showcased in Teentaal was as fine as natya (dramatic expressions) in Thumri. Next came Chetna Jalan of the Lucknow gharana with two compositions Angvinyasam and Ityalam. Angvinyasam was based on adavus (the basics of Bharatnatyam) while Ityalam had elements of ballet. Lastly, Shovana Narayan closed the day with a beautiful recital.

The second day belonged to artistes of the Kathak Kendra Repertory. They first presented Aavahan – a prayer to Lord Ganesha complete with Ganesh shloka and iconography of the elephant-headed God in movement, poses and tableaux. Then came Tejas inspired by Lord Shiva’s matted hair. Students of the Kendra also charmed the audience with Swaraangatala – a piece illustrating Swar, Ang and Taal which together make sangeet. Renowned Kathak exponents Surendra Saikia, Malti Shyam and Prerana Shrimali added to the evening.

The final day began with a thumping recital by Kathak Kendra’s percussion students titled Pratha-Pravah. They not just played the tabla but combined the tabla with other instruments like jambi, dholak and pakhawaj. Kathak students presented Ang-Prasang on the ‘marvel of the human form.’ Then Assamese Kathak exponent Bipul Das gave a performance with his disciples Rakesh Mandal and Vijay Prasad Shrivastava, followed by Aditi Mangaldas who expressed her spiritual love for Lord Krishna through a piece called Immerse.

The grand finale performance was by acclaimed dancer Rajendra Kumar Gangani
and students of the Kendra. They staged Aviral – a composition depicting Kathak in
its practice, its knowledge transmission and historical progression. It showed the
transference of skill as it takes place in a gurukul like Kathak Kendra – the perfect piece to close the institute’s 50th year celebration.

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