Aditi Mangaldas in 'Timeless'

Aditi Mangaldas is a renowned Kathak dancer. A brief introduction about her is already on this blog. She performed on the 4th of November at the Kamani auditorium during the Delhi International Arts Festival. The theme of the performance was ‘Timeless’.

Aditi Mangaldas is very deeply rooted in the classical form of Kathak and making these roots her base, she gives her dance a contemporary vocabulary. Her guru Kumudani Lakhia gave that contemporary angle to her training. Aditi says, “I love doing Kathak in its pure form, but I love giving it a contemporary direction and infuse contemporary sensibilities into it. It is not like mixing two things, but taking the base or roots of Kathak and then giving it a new vocabulary.” Aditi’s creativity shows in her choreography and this is what she says about it - “I am a dancer first and a choreographer later. I have to translate poetry, imagery, or emotions into dance. I read a lot about the concept and talk to people about it and this helps in forming images in my mind. Then I take these images to the floor and see how they transform into dance. I work with myself primarily as a dancer, and then with my company.”
‘Timeless,’ the theme of the performance, is an abstract concept. Time is not anything tangible. It is a relative term. Aditi says it is not a single perspective, it is many questions. Is time reversible? Is it still? Is it parallel? Does it flow? Can we hold time past and time future in time present? Is it flexible? Is time cyclic? Does it trip? Does it end? It is an individual perception. Like Aditi said that her son grew up so fast that she did not realize how time went by. She enunciated these questions with actions and dance. Another concept about time that she discussed during her performance was the relativity of time. When you look from a moving train, you feel you are sitting still and the trees outside are moving backwards. So, are we still and time and age pass us by? Or is time like leaves flitting on water, sometimes here, sometimes there? If time flows like a river, then does it have a beginning and an end?
The dancers were dressed in blue and grey contemporary costumes. Behind them was a screen with circular lights. The music by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan had the sounds of bells and gongs. It was a spectacle to watch that transported one to another realm altogether. The movement of planets keeps time, and so their movement is timeless. The dancers had immense energy, giving thap with their feet and revolving with such speed that it took one’s breath away. They drew lines with their hands that Aditi later explained were related to time. They were tapping their feet on the floor and beating time on their body with their hands. Time might not be tangible, but you could certainly see, feel and hear time during the performance.
The live singing and live tabla and pakhawaj lent their own beauty.  Ashish Gangani is an excellent pakhawaj player. Songs like ‘Laagi Hai Chala-Chali’ or shlokas recited about time added to the impact. Aditi performed solo to a song by Shubha Mudgal. The lover’s embrace is like a swing, ‘Rahyo Hai Hindor’, and then you feel that time should stand still. These moments should not pass. Aditi performed ballet-like movements ending with an embrace. All the time the dancers did not deviate from the classic Kathak moves.
Timelessness is a feeling that you get while watching the performance and the experience that you get is priceless.

Photo Credits: 
1. Aditi Mangaldas by Vipul Sangoi, Raindesign, London.
2. and 3. Dance performance by Harkiran Singh Bhasin, NCPA, Mumbai