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UTSAV: Unbound Beats of India 2021

Utsav Educational and Cultural Society – Ranjana’s Odissi Dance Academy organized festival of Indian classical dance for young established artists “Unbound Beats of India”, the 11th in the series since its inception in 2008. It was scheduled on the evening of 9th and 10th January 2021. Due to the pandemic, Utsav hosted the festival online via its Facebook and YouTube handles after it had been pre-recorded. Seven artists in three different classical dance styles regaled the virtual audience with their brilliance on both evenings.

The highlight of this event was the innovate videography and editing done by Mr. Sidharth Daniels, Mr. Suchit Mangraj and their team. They created brought out a new aspect of dance videography for a classical dance festival never before seen in this country giving the audience a 360 view of the dancers and capturing the small aspects that and a live audience in an auditorium may not be able to witness and captivating those who witnessed this new dawn.

Smt. Ranjana Gauhar

Day one (1) of the festival Unbound Beats of India began with announcements about Utsav, Founder-President Utsav, Padmashree and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee Smt Ranjana Gauhar and the objective behind organising this festival for young and talented artists done soulfully by Smt. Sadhna Shrivastava who has been a part of this festival since its inception. The festival was inaugurated at 7 p.m. with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Padmashree and SNA Awardee Smt. Ranjana Gauhar and Smt. Sadhna Shrivastava.

Vrinda Chadha, a disciple of Guru Ranjana Gauhar began the festival with an invocation in Odissi by the lyrics of Raja Swati Tirunal’s ‘Vishveshwara Darshan Ko’ where the devotee says “Oh mind! Do undertake a pilgrimage to Kashi to have a vision of Lord Visweshwar”. Set to raag Asaveri and Khemta taal, music composition by Shri Saroj Mohanty and choreography by Guru Ranjana Gauhar Vrinda created an ambience highlighting the bhakti rasa by her stage presence and expressions, she aptly showcased the vigour of Shiva taking striking poses which highlights the beauty of Guru Ranjana Gauhur’s choreography.

Vrinda Chadha | PC: one frame story

Complementing the remarkable performance of the earlier artist was a duet of Chhau and Bharatnatyam by the husband-wife –a duo of Rakesh Sai Babu (Bismillah Khan Awardee) and Priya Srinivasan, disciple of Guru Janmejoy Sai Babu and Kalakshetra Foundation.  This duo brought together two vastly different styles in three small pieces that left the virtual audience wanting more. They began with a pure Nritta piece titled ‘Sangam’ and the juxtaposition of the different instruments of the two styles created perfect harmony not only in the Nritta potion but all their items. This was followed by a tribute to Shiva and Parvati in ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ using the lyrics of Adishankaracharya’s  ‘Nagendra Haraya’  together they beautifully showcased he masculine principle which represents the abiding aspect of God and the feminine principle which represents its energy. This was swiftly followed by their concluding piece entitled ‘Shringara’ set at a slightly slower pace than the first two items. This piece was about the Union of Radha and her beloved Krishna, Radha and Krishna are the combinations symbolising the soul, seeking the divine love.

Rakesh Sai Babu and Priya Srinivasan | PC: one frame story

The last dancer of the evening was the seasoned Smt. Ragini Chandrashekar (Bismillah Khan Awardee) disciple of her mother Guru Jamuna Krishnan. She presented Todaya Mangalam choreographed by Guru Jamuna Krishnan. In this item, the devotee describes the beauty and magnificence of Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. Ragini had strong command over the ‘jathis’ or rhythmic sequences that intersperse the verses bringing forth her lucid abhinaya. A plus point to Ragini’s performance was her excellent music support which gave a wonderful end to the first day of the festival.

Ragini Chandrashekar | PC: one frame story

After Ragini’s performance, Sadhna ji welcomed Guru Ranjana Gauhar on stage to facilitate the artists of the first day and invited everyone to tune in for the second day of Utsva’s ‘Unbound Beats of India’ supported by Ministry of Culture.

Day two (2) of the festival Unbound Beats of India began with announcements about Utsav, Founder-President Utsav, Padmashree and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee Smt Ranjana Gauhar and the objective behind organising this festival for young and talented artists done by effortlessly by Smt. Sadhna Shrivastava. The festival was inaugurated at 7 p.m. with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Padmashree and SNA Awardee Smt. Ranjana Gauhar and Smt. Sadhna Shrivastava.

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A senior disciple of Guru Ranjana Gauhar, Kevin Bachan was the opening performer on the second day of the festival. He started his performance with Ardhanarishwara, an expressional number based on the well-known prayer written by Saint Adi Shankaracharya in the 8th century as well as Kalidas’s Raghuvansham, depicting the dual divinity- the female half being Parvathy and the male half being Shiva. Set to raag Mallika, taal Mallika, the music compositions of Acharya Bankim Sethi, music arrangement by Shri Saroj Mohanty and choreography by his Guru. Holding the virtual audience in a spell with his graceful dance, strength and poise, Kevin performed Vishwaroop Darshan from the Bhagvad Gita. This expressional number shows Lord Krishna’s revelation of his universal form, his Vishwaroop to the anguish-stricken Arjuna at the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The item was exceptionally choreographed by Smt Ranjana Gauhar, and an dynamic depiction was done by Kevin. This item was set to Raag Malkauns and Ahir Bhairavi, taal-EkTaali, and music composition by Acharya Bankim Sethi.

Kevin Bachan | PC: one frame story

Next came Dakshina Vaidyanathan Bagehl disciple of Gurus Dr. Saroja Vidyanatha and Smt. Rama Vaidyanathan came with her self-choreographed piece ‘Triveni’ with Lyrics translated to Sanskrit by Dr. S. Vasudevan and Dr. Himanshu Srivastava and music by Dr. S Vasudevan and the silk-like voice of Smt. Sudha Raghuraman brought this item on rivers alive. Dakshina in only her entry gave us an inclination of the power-packed presentation that was in store.

Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel | PC: one frame story

She showcased every river so effortlessly from Ganga flowing into the matted locks of Shiva to Krishna and his leela’s on the banks of river Yamuna to the mystical river Saraswati. She created the imagery of the river water flowing with her anga shuddi.

Vidha Lal | PC: one frame story

The last dance of day two of the two-day festival ‘Unbound Beats of India’ was Smt. Vidha Lal (Bismillah Khan Awardee) disciple of Guru Smt. Geetanjali Lal delivered two high energy pieces. She began her presentation with Ardhaang choreographed by her Guru with lyrics Baiju Bawara. This item represents the synthesis between the male and the female energies of the Universe – PURUSH AND PRAKRITI. With exceptional music Vidha showcased with ease the various aspects of Purush and Prakriti , she showcased with the might of Shiva with the beauty and grace of Parvati with noteworthy nritta pieces in between the verses. Her concluding item was a Tarana Raag: Darbari Taal: Teentaal Composed by Guru Smt Geetanjali Lal. This item was choreographed by Smt. Vidha Lal herself and gave a resounding conclusion to the festival Unbound beats of India 2021 with her grasp of the nuances that are required in a Tarana.

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After Vidha’s performance, Sadhna ji welcomed Guru Ranjana Gauhar on stage to facilitate the artists of the first day and invited everyone to tune in for the second day of Utsav’s ‘Unbound Beats of India’ supported by Ministry of Culture. Followed by the credits of all those who assisted in organizing this festival.

A note to be taken -the exceptional lights and technical direction is given for this festival was done by Shri. Sandeep Dutta.

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