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Dheerndra Tiwari’s offerings of Pranams in Kathak

Dheerendra Tiwari, a disciple of Pt. Rajendra Gangani, a doyen of Jaipur Gharana says that presenting his three choreographic works under the guidance of three choreographers has been his journey in developing his own vocabulary and dance in the traditional form that he has studied.  Shivo-Aham, (choreography Rajendra Gangani) as Ode to the soul,  Nandanar, the story of a Dalit worshipper of Lord Shiva (choreography Shama Bhate from Pune) and Conversations with Shiva, (choreography by Aditi Mangaldas) were presented at Sri Ram Centre were indicative of his explorations in Kathak.

It is always problematic to present abstract concepts through dance as it has to concretize through movements and suggest the abstraction. The concept by Amalia Tziotis dealing with the essence of soul repeating I am Shiva I am Shiva had to be expressed in Kathak. The opening stance with back to the audience and the movements to the sound of Buddhist bowl were impressive. The use of Panchmukhi paran helped in assisting abstraction. But references to Shiva as formless, et al found it difficult to comprehend. Because in order to establish the form of Shiva suggestive hasats for Kamadeva with flowery arrows, the opening of the third eye of Shiva, turning him into ashes had to be employed. Though through sheer movement, including revolutions with ek pada chakkars, on one leg, the speciality of Jaipurgharana was dazzling and won rounds of applause, the Adviata philosophy perhaps cannot be conveyed as it required to be.

Nandanar charitra is a well known south Indian story. The agony of a low caste devotee, being pushed away from entering the temple and not allowed to have darshan, is a moving tale of the humiliation of marginalized community. The twist was interesting in which Nandanar begs of Nandi that he too is a lowly creature kept outside the temple, would he not understand his plight? And move a little so that Nandanar can have a glimpse of the Lord?  Shama Bhate’s approach was of narrative storytelling befitting Kathak idiom. It was enacted well by Dheerendra to recorded music, concept, choreography, and appropriate costume by Shama Bhate.

The more successful was the choreography of Aditi Mangaldas. To the recitation of the text by Appaya Dixit, the suggestion of Lord Shiva who has, as ornaments, serpents, crescent moon, ash, Ganga and accompaniment of daughter of Himalaya, Parvati- all have distinct coolness, whereas as a devotee he burns with worldly desires. How wonderful it would be if they embrace each other so that the devotee gets the coolness and Lord the warmth of devotee’s burning desires! Well conceived and performed to moving music and recitation of Shivo aham, and in final moment complete silence when the devotee placed both palms together, the piece conveyed the concept clearly.

PC: Inni Singh

The teamwork of musicians vocal Samiullahkhan, tabla Mohit Gangani, pakhavaj Ashish Gangani, sitar Uma Shankar, lights Govind Yadav, sound design Yogesh Dhawan, show anchor Rachana Yadav Khanna was exemplary and of a high professional standard.

Dheerendra is an accomplished dancer. His endeavour to present three choreographic works is welcome as it displays another face of Kathak. From a single dancer reciting mnemonic syllables of tode, parans, on mike standing before the audience, to dance in silence, to bols by musicians, dance diagonally on stage, using three corners with exquisite mood lighting are all welcome innovations. These have been well explored and established by Aditi Mangaldas. And are becoming a part of present-day Kathak dance scene which brings a whiff of freshness.

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