Kathak talent Swati Wangnoo Tiwari is not new to the landscape of cultural performances in Delhi. Yet when she performed at Azad Bhavan, IP Estate recently, she left many gaping at the beauty of Kathak and her dexterity over the art.
Belonging to a family of artistes, Swati started dancing at the age of seven and later gained tutelage under the acclaimed Kathak Guru Geeetanjali Lal. She schooled in the sophisticated Jaipur gharana of Kathak at the prestigious Kathak Kendra of Delhi and went on to master its finer aspects like improvisations, footworks and spins.
Thoughtfully, Swati makes it a point to bring fresh compositions every time she performs in Delhi.
This time, she started with a stuti of lord Krishna Kasturi tilakam lalat patale vaksh sthale kaustabh. It extols the handsome looks of Krishna saying ‘he is the one who adorns a kasturi tilak on his forehead and a kaustabh mani across his neck.’
After this, she began with the technical aspects of Kathak – footwork, thaat (meaning the different poses struck by a dancer), amad (a dancer’s way of coming onto the stage), uthan (small rhythmic compositions), paran (on the sound of instrument Pakhawaj) and parmelu (expressing the different sounds in nature – a waterfall, rustling of leaves etc).Next she came to the abhinay (expression) part of Kathak. She performed on a monsoon-themed thumri — Kaise khelan jaihun sawan mein kajariya badariya ghir ayi. Her depiction of surmounting clouds and the peacock’s call were most real.
She then performed a kavita (poetry) on Krishna Krishna sakha mil gaye gwalan sang, describing the mischievous deeds of Krishna — teasing the gopis, stealing makhan etc.Finally, she came to the most mesmerising technical parts of Kathak: Tihai (patterns repeated three times executed by the feet), dhrut lay (fast compositions), tukda (16 spins at tremendous speed) and tarana. The finale befitted an exciting evening of Kathak like this.
An overwhelmed Swati exclaimed, “This is my most rewarding performance till date. My guru Geetanjali Lal was present here and I saw confidence and pride for me in her eyes. She kissed my forehead and said ‘Swati, you are a mature artiste now. What could be more gratifying than this?”