×
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Taking the pandemic in their stride

An ongoing classical dance digital fest hopes to replicate the joy of performing in front of an audience.
Last Updated : 07 November 2020, 20:15 IST
Last Updated : 07 November 2020, 20:15 IST

Follow Us :

Comments
The organisers of the festival, dancer-duo Nirupama-Rajendra. Pic courtesy: Manjunath
The organisers of the festival, dancer-duo Nirupama-Rajendra. Pic courtesy: Manjunath
ADVERTISEMENT

In the last eight months of the pandemic, the artiste community has been one of the worst hit. Traditionally, dance, music and theatre have been the three performance traditions that have maintained an intimate relationship with the audience. To withdraw from the realm of the public has meant many things for performing arts, but most importantly, it has changed the paradigm of viewing and reception of the artform, something very central to them.

In an effort to bridge this gap that has now been created between the artiste and the audience, well-known Kathak dancer-duo Nirupama and Rajendra, recently organised a full-fledged concert of the classical dances. “In the last seven months, there has been no real interaction with the public for dancers. People have found ways to do research etc., yet, the joy of dancing and sharing with an audience could not happen. We wanted the dance fraternity to come back,” says Nirupama.

Kala Dwaraka 2020 is a digital festival conceptualised and presented by the duo. “Artistes who do not have other jobs usually get paid through concerts and teaching. Dance and other artforms are put off for later when things get back to normal. Online teaching is very new for the arts; we are not equipped fully to teach the arts digitally. It becomes all the more challenging because of a lack of detailing, time-lag etc.,” says Nirupama.

It all started when Sudha Murty, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation, reached out to the dance duo and expressed her interest to support the artistes who were facing a setback due to the pandemic.

Taking this ahead, the couple felt the need to also provide a forum to classical dance artistes to perform on stage with live music and a professional setup, which otherwise had gone missing for the past months.

Celebrating the fine classical artistes of Karnataka, Kala Dwaraka features 24 dance concerts and more than 50 artistes. An organising crew of 20 people have come together and collaborated for the festival.

Re-imagined concerts

Dancers from different styles such as Bharatanatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi performed solos and duets to a total of around 100 compositions. “The way the presentation happens is sleek, keeping the digital viewer in mind. It is very precise and the performance changes for the camera. Everything becomes shorter digitally. We can’t have a two-hour concert, because now the concert is being reimagined for a different media. The idea is to take the essence of what needs to be done and re-choreograph it,” adds she.

For the past several years, Nirupama and Rajendra have established themselves as a
successful Kathak duo, performing at major festivals in India as well as abroad. Many dancers aspire for a career of solo dancing in India and the dynamic truly changes when you establish yourself as a couple. Initially, they both started out as solo Bharatanatyam artistes, before taking on Kathak.

She says, “Our guru Maya Rao brought us together in 1989. We don’t compromise on the grammar of the classical, it is two ‘wholes’ coming together to make a stronger whole. The energy shifts when we are two and the division of space, time etc., differs from a solo. There is synchrony, symmetry as well as asymmetry. This becomes a conversation and the interaction with the audience is better. For us, the work of art becomes stronger.”

The training happened at many levels, with Maya Rao’s inputs gleaned from the Lucknow gharana, modern techniques of Kathak under Kumidini Lakhia and the finer nuances of Lahori Kathak under Pakistani dancer Nahid Siddiqui, among many others.

As a veteran dancer, Nirupama has been witness to the essential shifts within the artform. “Kathak is about stories, as the name says. But, over the years, the storytelling has taken a backseat and a lot of work on pure dance has happened. Rhythmic calculations are presented, with very little storytelling. It should go back to its roots. Presenting tukdas is only one part, the other major part is communicative art. At the end of the day, we are storytellers; it all depends on the way we tell it,” says Nirupama.

Kala Dwaraka is currently being streamed for free on Shaale.com. The fest is on till 14 November.

ADVERTISEMENT
Published 07 November 2020, 19:41 IST

Deccan Herald is on WhatsApp Channels | Join now for Breaking News & Editor's Picks

Follow us on :

Follow Us

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT