The eight conditions in love

The eight conditions in love

Dance festival

The works of 14th century Maithili poet, Vidyapati, were brought alive by Bharatanatyam danseuse Shalini Rao, who researched and conceptualised the theme at the Lalit Arpan Festival recently held in Delhi. Rao was the Sutradhar (narrator) at the festival.

“Geet-Gobind by Jayadev is generally performed in many dance forms but works of Vidyapati aren’t explored that much. We have combined the poetry of Vidyapati and the dance forms of ashta nayikas. Nayikas are the different states of a woman in love. When the condition of love changes, the nayikas change,” explains Rao.

The festival saw dance performance based on one nayika and one dancer. Having done her PhD in performing arts from Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, Rao shares, “Ashta Nayika exists in every woman not just in the Natya Shastra. So I identify so much with these concepts. This is what made me choose this theme. Vidyapati had written poetry but has not demarcated them. So my research included picking up poetry that would cater to a particular nayika.”

After discussing the idea with danseuse Shovana Narayan, eight dancers were chosen to perform as different nayikas. Talking about the selection of dancers, Rao explains, “For example a soft nayika like Virahotkanthita – one distressed by separation, or Proshitabhartruka – one with a sojourning husband is more suitable for Mohiniattam,” she explains. The festival saw two Bharatanatyam performers portraying stronger nayikas; Kalahantarita – the one who rebuked her beloved and who believes that her lover has been with someone else, and Khandita – the one with a broken heart.”

“But there is so much variety in Indian dance forms that they all have a way to perform all eight nayikas,” shares Rao. The concept of eight nayikas is so close to her heart that she did two performances based on two nayikas in May at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Her research is also based on Vidyapati and the eight nayikas. She is next interested in working on the ashta rasas of Natya Shastra.

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