There are different ways of welcoming the rainy season. One can prepare oneself with an umbrella, or vaccines, or one can celebrate with a dance. This week, the India International Centre held the Monsoon Festival of Dance' in the Capital, where the theme was Expressions of Abhinaya'. It was here that the audience realised that expressions and emotions are as integral to dance, as is the technique and postures.
This Thursday and Friday at IIC's C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium, there was a range of classical dances all performed by some of the most respected names in their profession. On the first day, Prerana Shrimali, a Kathak dancer, with a carefully choreographed recital, presented the status of Kathak repertoire. As Shrimali explains, "While Kathak is known for speed and virtuosity, there are still specifications for abhinaya in its grammar and traditional presentation." Shrimali, known for her imaginative and inventive performances, wove in the verses of the medieval poet's Kalidas's Ritusamhara, which is on the seasons. "There is poetry in Kathak itself, kavita, set to a special tempo. In this, we describe all the events of Krishna's life."
Later that evening, the theme of Krishna was expanded on in Rama Vaidyanathan's Bharatanatyam recital. The love between Radha and Krishna, based on the Ashtapadi hymns, was explored. Another part of her show was based on a Tamil poem of the Ramayana where Vaidyanathan brought out the pathos of Raavan's character in his last moments. She explains, I wanted to take the theme of abhinaya to showcase varied emotions through different languages, such as Telugu, Tamil, and Marathi.
Friday's first show was a recital of Vilasini Natyam by Purvadhanashree, whose performance also carried on the theme of celebrating the rain gods, "Shiva and Krishna are the two forms of the monsoon. They embody the duality of it, as well the contrasting part of the monsoon. Shiva is the intense, vigorous contour of the monsoon, which at times can be dark and overwhelming, or even meditative. He is the black form. On the other hand, Krishna, the blue form, is the mischievous and playful side of the monsoon."
The last act of the festival was not the least, with Madhavi Mudgal's Odissi recital. Mudgal concluded the festival with dances based on Radha and Krishna's relationship. As she says, "Though the dance form and narratives are in Oriya, it has still spread to other parts of the country."
Those who attended the festival can now look at the monsoon in a new light.