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Samaratri takes Kathak repertoire to another scale

Seldom you will find a dancer bringing godly figures to the human level interpretation. More so, at the most basic human need of lovemaking and its amorous abstract thoughts! Shiva the ultimate God of destruction was questioned by doting Parvati as to what he stood for?  Who is questioning and why?

A traditional Kathak dancer cannot be blamed for mixing theatrical themes into their portfolio! Rather it’s a welcome theme that only an accomplished dancer can successfully attempt.

Gauri Diwakar presented Samaratri – Night of Divine Union at Dance Drishtikon 2020 organised by Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company and The Drishtikon Dance Foundation at India Habitat Center, New Delhi.

On a whole, the concept was full of questions and yet finding the truth within one own self.

‘Sangh chalo prana ke’ in Bhairavi strains was beautifully weaved by the vocal lead Samimullah Khan. His flow with the dancer’s move guiding Shiva to find his real self was a perfect setting for the thought. Normally in any classical setting Bhairavi is the concluding raag but to our comfort, Samimullahji opened the feeling of the goddess with this raag.

Gauri then implores Shiva to find his true calling inviting him to join the journey of a lady to accept a man as her paramour.

She created many captivating imageries for us when the serpents move in a flurry in the forest,  Parvati opens up Shiva ‘jata’ to ease his discomfort, the tabla duggi beats give us the damru dance and a joyful Shiva is opening up to his muse.

Undressing a woman is a mental exercise for a lover. In Gauri’s setting a disinterested God like Shiva notes his beloved beholding her in his a third eye. Gauri beautifully compares his exterior self with her own assets!

The excellent imagery she creates is his crescent moon headgear, his ash smeared body, damru as the instrument casting a magical spell and dancing tandav.

She keeps egging him the same way against her own charming personality, her fondness for lotus, veena and all beauty.

The contrast is that of body and its desire to the complexities of mind and it’s games. She repeatedly questions him Kim rupam tatvo?

‘Shiva Priye tum thaharo priti pranayam kisi abirala khahana mein?’ Gauri opens Shiva layer by layer of peacock feathers and subjecting Shiva to open up the process of coitus till the end. The moments of doubts in the belonging captured all our senses!

The ‘mor pankh’, if one can draw a simile are three leaves of Palash flower. Like ‘Palash ke teen dhak’ Gauri Diwakar cleverly essayed the change of mood from the ascendence of actual coitus to the orgasmic delight. The sensation of anta crawling as a metaphor remained a playful character of a playful communion.

Later they turn each other’s teacher and Parvati dances to ‘Dev dev Mahadev’, a stuti for having been blessed with Shiva love.

Undoubtedly the high note of the raags like Jan sammohini and Hamir and the subtle dark space on stage was aptly used and the support and the pinhole view from Samimullahji and Govind Singh couldn’t have been a better choice.

Gauri has taken the Kathak repertoire to another scale altogether. An inspiration to the next-gen dancers!


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