Divine dancing

The second performance for the evening on World Dance Day, organized by Natya Vriksha, was by Kathak exponent Gauri Diwakar. Gauri is the disciple of Sumita Chowdhary and Aditi Mangaldas. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards and has performed extensively.

Gauri has an impressive stage presence and her performance had a wisp of freshness and a hint of effortlessness. Her costume was very aesthetically designed by Sandhya Raman – a red billowing lower with a golden bagalbandi and a red dupatta.

The first piece she did was a Ganpati vandana. The bols of recitation were done in a rhythmic chant. Gauri did an interpretive dance in a sitting position, depicting ‘gajanan vighna haran’ – ekdanta, charbhuj, the mushak vahan, depicting the mouse with her hands, the trunk, the elephant ears, the moon on his head, holding the modak or laddu, the rope, trishul and the axe or parashu. Said Gauri, “The first segment was about Shiv-Parvati. This was choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas. I had performed it first in Kamani in 2009, but I had never repeated it after that, and I wanted to. The first part was the Ganesh vandana, and after that was the technical portion featuring thaat, uthan, etc, all depicting Shiv and Parvati.”

In this very energetic and powerful Shivastuti, Gauri depicted the attributes of Lord Shiva – his jataa, the Ganga on his head, the trishul in his hand, his trinetra, the tripund on his forehead and the snakes on his body. He drank the poison during the amrit manthan, and he is worshipped as Maheshwara. Finally, she took an impressive stance to show Shiva holding the damru. The interpretive dance and abhinaya were very powerful and expressive, and at the same time, had a lot of movement with footwork or tatkar, gat, twisting feet, and chakkars or pirouettes. This was followed by a flute interlude by Rohit Prasanna.

The next piece was Mugdha, which is a celebration of beauty of a woman, choreographed by Gauri. As Gauri explained, the piece might have been perceived as the mugdha nayika of the Natya Shastra, but actually had nothing to do with that. “Mugdha had nothing to do with the nayika. It was also written in the pamphlet - mugdha means my heart is mugdh by the beauty of a woman. And when we talk of beauty, Radha emerges as an inspiration. This entire piece I had created for the Ananya festival. It is in the vilambit laya, madhya laya and dhrut laya. Vilambit laya mein sirf nayan ke baare mein hai. Beech ka portion, ‘Sundar sujan ke’, ismein saara madhya laya mein hai. Aur last piece tarana hai, woh saara dhrut mein hai,” Gauri explained. Describing the eyes of Radha, the poetry says ‘madbhare shwet shyamal ratnare, jhuki jhuki chitvat’, and describing her ornamentation, ‘tere milan ko sundar sujan saloni saree, zari ki suhani hai, uraj anj pe kanchuki kasai hai’. Describing the beauty of Radha, the poetry says that she is decked up in a beautiful saree and her breasts are contained in a tight blouse. Again, Gauri has a knack for very sensuous and sensitive abhinaya. Finally, in a seated position, she recited poetry, ‘Kamal si sukumari’. Explaining the source of the concept, Gauri said, “Shubha Mudgalji gave me the text for Mugdha. She and Aneesh Pradhan composed the music for it. It was written by kavivar Lal Balbir, even ‘Sundar sujan ke’.”

This was followed by an interlude of pakhawaj and tabla by the Ganganis. They have a following of their own quality and people really enjoy their percussion.

The final piece was ‘Resonance’, part of her famous production ‘Hari ho gati meri’, choreographed by Aditi Mangaldas. The poetry is a composition by Sayyad Fazlul Hasan, also known as Maulana Hasrat Mohani. It speaks of Krishna’s flute, the melody emerging from it a message beckoning one to eternal life as the fount of ever-increasing knowledge – ‘Irfan-i-ishq naam hai mere maqaam ka’. “As you know, when something is choreographed by Aditi didi, it has everything - tihais, paran, tukde etc,” said Gauri. And as we know, when Gauri performs Kathak, it has everything too – pace, grace, delicacy and transcendent emotion. It was a coming together of some greats in dance – the dancer who gave them this platform, Geeta Chandran, and the dancer who choreographed two of these segments, Aditi Mangaldas. The costumes for the evening were by Sandhya Raman. The Ganesh vandana was originally sung by Ashwini Bhide Deshpande for Music Today. The concept and research for Hari Ho Gati Meri were by Sanjay Nandan. The accompanying orchestra had Yogesh Gangani on the tabla, Ashish Gangani on the pakhawaj, Samiullah Khan on vocals and harmonium and Rohit Prasanna on the flute. The light design was by Milind Srivastava, and sound by AK Electricals.

Pics: Anoop Arora