CATALYST AT EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE NCPA – celebrates choreographies from Lockdown

CATALYST  AT EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE NCPA  – celebrates choreographies from Lockdown

ON July 21’2022

Pics by Madhusudan S. Menon – Dance and Music Photography  – Menon

An evening celebrating choreographies born during lockdown was presented by the prestigious NCPA ,Mumbai  under CATALYSTon July 21’2022 , with Kuchipudi by Parvathy Menon, Odissi by Mitali Varadkar & Shreya Sabharwal and Kathak by Sanjukta Sinha & troupe

The national lockdown had worked as a catalyst that had ‘sown seeds of new knowledge and forced artistes to start thinking out of the box to create work never thought of before’  .

The evening showcased live performances by artists who had redesigned a choreography that was originally shot in their individual spaces.

The   evening commenced with the solo Kuchipudi performance by Parvathy Menon,   whom  Ms SwapnokalpaDasgupta  – Programme Head – Dance NCPA ,  introduced as the ‘Bahu of Mumbai ‘ as she is the daughter -in-law of the celebrated & renowned Exponent, Mentor, Choreographer, Curator Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra.


Parvathy Menon

Parvathy Menon,  is one among  the senior disciples of the renowned Guru Kalamandalam Mohana Thulasi and veteran A.B. Bala Kondala Rao. She presented Jyothirgamaya – Towards light ‘   highlighting the   inner  awakening  vital to transcend the flux of life, through  the persona of Devaki  – Mother of Lord Krishna  .  The four walls of her prison – Karagriha,   akin to each human heart suffocating within four walls during the lockdown  and threatened by   the COVID Virus-  as insensitive as the negativity incarnate in the form of ‘Kamsa..  The fleeting  vision covering his entire life ,  accorded unto  Devaki  and Vasudeva by  Lord Krishna,  from his leelas at Gokul to the battle field at kurukshetra,   highlighted the vital  message   to all mankind  to  anchor in the merciful Lord, with that faith  vital to transcend every waiting trial in a causal world. Endowed with a very expressive countenance, the graceful dancer Parvathy, mirrored the anxiety of Mother Devaki as she gives birth. Her wide eyes reflected Devaki’s disbelief   and dismay, as the Lord   accorded the fleeting vision of what his  life would gather at Gokulam  ! The dancer skillfully used the charanam  Chinni Krishna rara nanu palimpa of the  Attana varnam in  Adi tala. by Composer: Turaiyur Rajagopala Sharma and highlighted the transitions in Krishna’s life effectively. One only wished that she had balanced the nritta aspect strategically so as not to have it break the flowing sequence   towards the dramatic climax   that she was creating.  Instead of the otherwise still and movement sequences that the vocalist and dancer resorts to, in a live kuchipudi performance, she could have worked out the dramatic climax with the energized aesthetics of Kuchipudi, having   nritta and nrittya bringing to life the battle scene  of Kurukshetra, with the dramatic vision of the divine opulence accorded by the Lord unto Arjuna , etched and reflected in Devaki’s eyes. The heart of a Mother  who gathers her child with a mixed anxiety of all that is to follow and  her  very  motherhood that embraced its effulgence !  The segment set the prelude to the duet sheathed in Odissi by disciples of renowned Guru Shubhada Varadkar

Mitali  Varadkar & Shreya Sabharwal

The two talented disciples of renowned Odissi Exponent and Guru Shub hada Varadkar – Mitali  Varadkar & Shreya Sabharwal   began their segment  with  Ram bhajan –  _Ran jiti ram rahu aaye_Ram bhajan from Tulsi Ramayan. followed by the pure dance through the  Jhinjhoti pallavi and concluded with the  beautiful composition  by seer composer Adi Shankara  -Shive shrungara_ with Mahishasurmardini , The choreography  of all pieces was by  their mentor, Smt Shubhada Varadkar.The movements were well co- ordinated and synchronized . However one   wished   that the young dancers paid more attention to the beautiful aspects of the dance form with more oneness and sensitivity .The nritta  aspect of Odissi   is a visual poetry with  with  arcs, lines of arms,  graceful tilting of shoulders and one longed for a deeper  visual impact through the obvious talent within them  !

Endearing as they were, in their breathless highlighting of each item inculcated during the lock down, one sincerely  wished that they also cultivated the art of controlled breathing as they held sensitive mikes  in their hands and sought to share the experience of imbibing each item  iduring the two year trial of the lockdown!,   . Small connects make a performance memorable else one remembers all that is not dance.  Youngsters should also become aware of an aesthetics that highlights a poise in every movement of a dancer on stage,   to have them emerge as artistic practitioners of their styles.

Sanjukta Sinha  dance Company

The finale was truly the  befitting  climax of the evening   by.Sanjukta Sinha  dance Company . Sanjukta is among those Indian Dancers, who through the synergy of the classical with modern vocabulary have been impacting not only Indian but the International audience as well. The thought given to every aspect of the presentation was quite evident in its defining professionalism.   The meticulously choreographed light designing   had the space transform to the energized defining of Mahadeo or caress the longing within the jeeva for Krishna or draw attention to the silence and sound  threading every dancing feet , leading to the climax with  the final discarding of the material by the jeeva for the  surrender that is bliss in the conluding piece.

The performance was marked by the practised co- ordination between dancers with  the  ongoing climax  in every piece until the silence that marked the last piece- where even gingroos were abandoned,  highlighted the  blissful potent  aesthetics of dance – the consummate oneness of the body that is dust transforming to energised dust .that is light  !

Sometimes in the overt concentration on the aim to impress, as is happening in the dance scenario  all around and drawing attention to the personality executing it, one’s soul  feels the need to be stirred, to be moved to be overwhelmed by what is sought to be expressed than what is created  to impress !    Nevertheless the evening was a memorable one that had one gather  the sincere commitment in young and serious practitioners  a pristine foil to the more  professional approach.

Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra – post performance discussion

The post – performance discussion was  one can say the cherry on the cake with the renowned & celebrated  Bharata Natyam- Guru, Exponent , Choreographer ,Curator  Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra    taking on the stage  with a directed discussion on the impact of covid on dance and dancers . With her inimitable, intimate style she led the discussion through  humour , life quotes , her experience  lauding the spirit of humanity which as she put it could  be ‘destroyed  but never defeated !

Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra

Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra summed the potency of classical dance forms with –  ‘as dancers we have always been part of the virtual- translating the tangible to the  intangible . The potent  fourth dimension  is what dancers are always seeking  and leading rasikas to through their ornate aharyas that they have the audience forget in their virtual weaving of a theme and therefore  this new age virtual world is nothing new for us’

CATALYST  AT EXPERIMENTAL THEATRE NCPA  – celebrates choreographies from Lockdown