On the occasion of Deepawali (2011), the Upadhye school of dance organized their first ever edition of Narthakarinda Nathakarigagi
(for dancers, by dancers) at the ADA Ranga Mandira in Bangalore.
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Veejay Sai is Indian classical music/dance critic and Special Correspondent of www.artindia.net. Veejay Sai can be contacted on email@example.com Copying this interview in part/full without the written permission of www.artindia.net is against law.
Four Simmering Lights for Deepawali
The evening opened with a Pushpanjali by Anil Iyer (student of late guru Narmada and Poornima Gururaja) from Bangalore after which he presented an invocatory kriti to lord Ganesha written by poet and literary figure Shri D.V.Gundappa , Bhuvana ganapathy ,set to Nattai ragam by L.S.Narayanaswamy. Anils confidence on the stage mingling with the melodious flute by Vidwan Mahesh Swamy and Nattuvangam by Pulakeshi Kasturi and Vidwan Lingaraju on Mridangam guaranteed the evening would proceed smoothly. A wonderful composition of Gundappa, rarely performed to dance, evokes the glory of lord Ganesha. Strung with narratives of the Ganeshas leelas, Anil managed to pull off a superb show and kick-start the festival on a high note. Following that was Bhavajan Kumar (student of Shijith Nambiar) from Chennai presenting a kriti in praise of Lord Shiva. Being the youngest performer for the evening, nineteen year old Bhavajan , with his visible baby-fat on his upper body was still impressive with his clear lines. If he could get rid of the monotonous look of being worried on his face and constantly twitching his eyebrows, Bhavajan has a face that could express the rasas better than many other male dancers of his age. The choreography however didnt have anything unique or fresh and one was reminded one of an older piece performed by Mrs. Leela Samson many years ago. For the unoriginal choreography he danced to, Bhavajan even had an announcement that no one should videograph his presentation, making a fool of himself with Bangalore audiences. He has a good energy about himself that could take him a long way in being a fine dancer if he could put in more originality in his aesthetics and presentation.
The third dancer for the evening Sai Santosh Radhakrishnan (student of Guru Adyar Lakshman and Deepa Babaprasad) from Chennai presented a Jatiswaram. A composition of Mysore Veena Sheshanna set to Karaharapriya Ragam, it is one of the finest jatiswarams one could perform. Sai Santosh was in such a hurry that everything he presented looked like a big blurr. For the enviable height that Santosh has and the long overpowering arms he could flaunt in his dance, he turned out to be as soggy as a giraffe swinging behind a zoo fence. Devoid of any rasa on his face other than visible distress, one thought if Santosh might have stepped on a live wire on the stage. Technically strong like a robot but soulless, Santoshs dancing failed miserably. If Santosh puts in more effort, he could reinvent the majestic presentation of a celebrated dancer like Kamadeva on stage all over again with his stage presence. The fourth performer and the organizer of this festival Parshwanath Upadhye (student of Ravindra Sharma and Kiran Subramanyam) opened his dance with a Deepanjali to Lord Rama. After that he presented a Bhajan Shri ramachandra Kripalu Bhajaman written by Poet Tulsidas. Parshwanath, as such is one of the finest young male dancers Bangalore is proud of. But his selection for the evening was totally tiresome. With tediously boring sancharis and repetitive movements Parshwanath wasted his vigor on stage.
The second half of the evening got slow and dreary. Bhavajan presented Om namo narayana and Sai Santosh danced to Ananda narthanam, a seasoned old favourite of many dancers but equally stale if not performed well. Neither of their dance had any freshness, either in sancharis or in its choreography. Before each of the dancers performed their extensive biographies were announced to the audience flaunting all the various senior dancers and gurus they worked with in the past. Sadly in their presentations, both Bhavajan and Sai Santosh lacked innovation. The third dance was Anil Iyer presenting Chitike vesithe, a Javali by Sarangapani. Now for some strange unknown reason the singer Gopalakrishnan Srikanth seemed to be in a hurry and kept his fellow musicians in a fizzle. He rushed through the song as if he had to catch a train back to Chennai or he was being chased by someone. One wondered if he was singing the Javali or an advertisement jingle. Very few singers work in sync with dancers. Anyone who has seen Anil perform this particular piece on an earlier occasion could sense he did a appalling job of it this time around. With the vocalist in a hurry, Anil managed to make a mess of the Javali. Added to that was Srikanths atrocious pronunciation of the telugu lyrics. Breaking at all the odd sandhis, Srikanths mediocre singing matched Anils unnecessarily effeminate dancing. Was it the dancers over-confidence or the singers arrogance? Either ways it was the innocent audiences who had to tolerate this endless banter. Srinakth has a good voice but his ignorance of lyrics is outrageous. He could certainly take a lesson or two in grammar and pronunciation from Bangalores favourite vocalist Vidwan Srivathsa who rendered this very Javali with so much more soul in it, on an earlier occasion to Anils dance. For all the great fame Srikanth might have achieved in Chennai, his performance in Bangalore was unimpressive and pedestrian. We hope he takes Bangalore audiences more seriously the next time he performs here.
Parshwanath ended the series of solo performances for the evening presenting Baaro Krishnayya, a devarnama by Saint Purandhara Dasa. In this solo, Parshwanath managed to pull off some decent abhinaya. However the sequence came across as highly filmy and bland. His preoccupation with his anxieties over how the festival might go took a toll on his good dance. The evening ended with all the four dancers doing a korvai each to a thillana in Brindavana Saranga ragam followed by a Mangalam.
The effort and intention behind a festival of this nature is highly commendable inspite of the dull and boring moments through the course of the evening. The Upadhye School of dance must be congratulated for managing to pull off a good show on a big festival day. Parshwanath, the one man army behind it proved that good dancers can also be efficient organizers if they put their heart to it. Deepawali evening these four dancers came across as four dull and simmering lights. Hopefully the next time they will shine brighter and better.
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