ONLINE: Nidhisha Varshney and Somya Narang do guru Gauri Diwakar proud in Vidha Lal’s Sankalp ep. 8

Somya and Nidhisha (pic: Facebook)

The Sankalp series of Kathak performances curated by dancer and teacher Vidha Lal is in its ninth week now, and has presented young dancers of top-notch calibre and training over two months. Episode 8 featured another duo, Nidhisha Varshney and Somya Narang, disciples of Gauri Diwakar. Gauri, a formidable soloist, is the disciple of many great gurus including Aditi Mangaldas and Jai Kishan Maharaj and is also a senior member of Aditi’s Drishtikon repertory. Like Aditi, she is a must-watch dancer for me – I have been watching them both together and separately on stage for about two decades now. These two dancers have carved a niche for themselves on the international stage, and as gurus, they have been turning out dancers of great calibre. 

Nidhisha and Somya performing on 20 September (screengrab)

Gauri introduced Nidhisha and Somya as not just dancers but as a healthcare entrepreneur and a psychologist, respectively, emphasizing that their education and careers went alongside their commitment to dance. They have both completed their visharad from Prachin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. Nidhisha is an entrepreneur in healthcare technology and finds joy in rhythm, while Somya, a psychologist, wants to explore the role of movement in emotional healing. For this performance, their costumes were by Gauri, and videography and editing by Logix Studios. 

Nidhisha and Somya started with the Om mantra sung and composed melodiously by Samiullah Khan. One dancer seated and bent forward, and the other standing behind her, was a good posture to start with. Through well-executed balancing stances, they depicted Shiva’s attributes: jata, Ganga, trishul, chandra. Simultaneously, they paid obeisance to Gauri, ‘narayani namostute’. It was very lyrical dancing. 

Next, the dancers presented teen taal, a pure nritta presentation. Music composition was by Jai Kishan Maharaj. They began very gracefully in teen taal vilambit. They presented footwork in a tukda, continuing into a thaat aamad, taking postures very lyrically and swaying very gracefully to the bols. After that was a paran aamad, executed with great technique and followed by a ladi, which led into an aamad. All throughout, they showed great camaraderie and coordination. They performed tukde and tihais again in coordination, moving together and alternately. They then went on to more of uthaan and parans, exhibiting their technical prowess in madhya laya. They reached a crescendo by presenting footwork. 

The highlight of their presentation was their combination of ‘thehrav and tezi’, as Vidha said, and their complete, well-executed movements. Plus, their costume did not obstruct their movement or obscure their feet and their footwork was clearly visible. To me, they proved themselves worthy of being called Gauri’s disciples. You can watch the performance here:


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