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Sarangati Festival in Bengaluru

Kim Aham Institution of Kuchipudi Dance presented the annual Saranagati festival of classical dances at the Dhwani Auditorium, Kundalahalli, Bangalore on 7th April. The Saranagati festival is an annual festival projecting the theme of surrendering oneself to the lotus feet of the Almighty through the medium of classical dance and music. Every year established artists are invited to perform for this unique festival in order to showcase their performance and also to instill and inspire the young generation to take up classical dancing professionally and seriously. The soul of this festival is the director of Kim Aham – Avijit Das, reputed Kuchipudi performer and mentor.

Four distinct classical dances were performed,namely, Kuchipudi, Mohiniattam, Kathak and Bharatanatyam. The festival commenced with Kuchipudi recital by the young disciples of Guru Roopa Rajesh. The young dancers that also included a male dancer performed with enthusiasm and sincerity. Karnataka Kalashree Roopa Rajesh is the disciples of accomplished exponents like Uday Renuka,Chitti Durgadevi and Vedantam Ramu.

The next performance was the elegant Mohiniattam recital by accomplished exponent from Trichur(Kerala), Pallavi Krishnan. Pallavi was initially trained in Mohiniattam from Kalamandalam Shankaranarayanan in Shanti Niketan and has also learnt from Kalamandalam Sugandhi. In 1994 Pallavi established Lasya Akademi of Mohiniattam inTrichur and organises festivals too. Pallavi’s performance was noteworthy for its lyrical grace and clarity of movements, besides the evocative expressions. Pallavi performed the Cholkettu which was different from the traditional Cholkettu performed by most dancers from Kalamandalam. The “piece-de-resistance”of the evening was the interpretation of the persona and emotions of the courtesan “Pingala” who entertained people with her beauty and charm but on a particular day there was no visitors and Pingala in retrospect wonders as to what is wrong, is her beauty withering away? or it is the arrogance and conceit that is keeping people away from her. At last she realises that it is the inner beauty of the person which is of prime importance and not the exterior beauty and completely surrenders to the divine grace of the Almighty.

Renowned Kathak danseuse Uma Dogra, SNA awardee and Director of Kathak Kendra rendered a scintillating performance along with three talented disciples, Sarita Kalele, Vinita Venugopal and Karthika Unnikrishnan. Besides the invocation in praise of Nataraja, the dancers created a lasting impression with the execution of Ashta Mangal taal in 11 matras which was unique and unusual. The surprise item of the evening that attracted a standing ovation was the interpretation of the ashtapadi ‘Dheer Sameere Yamuna Teere” that symbolises the union of Radha and Krishna on the banks of the river Yamuna. Normally in most cases it is Radha who is suffering from the pangs of separation but in this ashtapadi it is Krishna who is longing to meet Radha and falls at her feet and she is taken aback. The suffering and intensity of the emotions is depicted with subtle and evocative expressions.Veteran Kuchipudi mentor Prof Pasumarthy Ramalingam Sastry who was the chief guest on the occasion said “this is the first time am seeing ashtapadi being interpreted in Kathak and with Uma’s amazing involvement, I must confess that she has made this ashtapadi her own, am overwhelmed with the intensity that she has displayed”.

The last performer of the evening was the brilliant dancer from Bangalore Dr Soundarya Srivatsa who pertains to the Pandanaullur tradition and is the distinct disciple of the veteran mentor Guru Narmada. Her performance was striking and impressive for the clarity of movements and the natural display of expressions. Soundarya’s doctoral thesis was the application of classical dances in south Indian cinema. Along with singer and composer husband DS Srivatsa, the dynamic couple has established the Nartana Keertana Centre for Performing Arts in Bangalore training young aspirants in both dance and music.

The special guests of the evening included senior dance critic from Kolkata,Tapati Chowdhary and Kuchipudi exponent and noted dance critic of Mumbai,Guru Vijay Shanker.

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