AAI Review | Drishtikon Home Studio Baithak Season IV

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Drishtikon saw the 4th Season of its Home Studio Baithak on Saturday the 11th August, 2018. A new set of youngsters were all set to make their mark. This time the in house performers were Anjana Singh (Classical Kathak) and Manoj Sonagra (Contemporary based on Kathak). The guest performer was the youngest prodigy of the renowned Gangani Family, Nishit Gangani (Tabla).

The show started with Nishit’s Tabla recital. He seemed quite composed even with his Guru Pt. Fateh Singh Gangani sitting in the audience. He played many compositions each ending with the claps and loud applaud of the audience. His performance was a perfect blend of melody and fire cracking speed. No wonder he has millions of views and followers on Facebook and Youtube.

Anjana’s performance ‘Drops’ was all about thunder, rain drops, happiness, grief, beauty, abhinaya and strong footwork. She ended her performance with a piece on the beautiful bandish ‘Baadarwa garje megha barse’. I could see in her the confidence of performing in one’s own studio. It seemed as if the floor was reciprocating to her footwork. In all an enjoyable performance.

The surprise for the evening (at least for me) was ‘Fluctuations’ by Manoj. I have seen Manoj since the time he had joined Drishtikon. ‘Fluctuations’ is a big transformation for him, coming from a strictly classical Kathak background. An otherwise shy person, he was so bold when he looked right into your eye while performing Fluctuations. I am sure the audience was awestruck seeing him perform with such audacity. All I can say is an amazing stage setup and choreography and a splendid performance. A much deserved standing ovation.

This was the first time in the last 15 years that my Baba (my father) who is 72 now wanted to come and see a Baithak. He was overjoyed and felt it worth travelling 30 kms and back to witness the Drishtikon Home Studio Baithak. He reminisced of his younger days when he used to witness similar baithaks in his hometown Varanasi where Pt. Shanta Maharaj, Pt Gopi Kishan, Pt. Mahadev Misra etc. used to perform.

Such is the impact of the Drishtikon Home Studio Baithak. Here’s to many more such avenues!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photography @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

Aditi Mangaldas Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company- The Drishtikon Dance Foundation Paushali Priya Dutta Yogesh Gangani

#AAI #AAIReview #DrishtiklonHomeStudioBaithak

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AAI REVIEW | Sadhya Baithak

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Be an encourager, the world has enough critics already – Anonymous

Such an encouraging thought it was, when Sanjukta Sinha called Santosh Nair Ji just a week before 7th of July 2018 to curate a baithak at the Sadhya Studio in Shivalik, New Delhi. The sole purpose was to create a platform, an intimate space, for young artists to perform and showcase their talent.

Various budding artistes were invited to perform for the Biathak including Bhanu Sisodia – Pakhawaj, Mohit Shridhar – Kathak Solo, Mihika Mukherjeeand Krutika Ghanekar (Kadamb) – Kathak Duet, Himesh ParchaSudhir Kumar and Pankaj Singh (Sadhya) – Chhau Trio and Neha Sharma, Sahul Bhatia, Himesh ParchaSudhir Kumar and Pankaj Singh (Sadhya) – Contemporary Group.

To sum it up in all up – they were all FIRE CRACKERS!! Such art, such precision, such timing, such emotion and such commitment.

Bhanu was amazing, even with Mohit Gangani and Ashish Gangani sitting right in front of him. I really think his performance was short-lived and that he could have played a bit more.

Mohit presented a solo in his new avatar. Having worked with him in Drishtikon I got to see a very different and new-fangled kathak dancer in him. He was sharp and subtle. He took everybody sitting there in his stride.

I have often wondered that whenever somebody works with or joins the Kadamb repertory, the first thing he or she catches is the ‘Sanjukta syndrome’. This is evident in all Kadamb performances where the repertory members continuously push themselves to dance as swiftly and flawlessly as Sanjukta Sinha. Now that’s some inspiration!

Mihika and Krutika, the youngest in the crew, kept up to Kadamb’s and Sanjukta’s name. They were so in sync that they reminded me of Swati Sinha and Monisa Nayak’s impeccable performance in Gurvai Namah last year.

Himesh Parcha, Sudhir Kumar and Pankaj Singh presented a Chhau trio. I must say the space was so less for them but they still made it look so grand. The best thing was they were not just mechanically following the choreography but loving and enjoying every bit of it, which added an extra spark to their performance.

The last was Impetus (work in progress though it didn’t seem like) performed by Neha Sharma, Sahul Bhatia, Himesh Parcha, Sudhir Kumar and Pankaj Singh. I wish they could show their work on a bigger stage like Kamani or NCPA. I really look forward to the completed work soon.

The evening was a lot of fun and frolic with art flowing in the air and another set of Gurus, Pandits, and Legends in the making!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Shivani Dass | India Heritage Desk

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AAI REVIEW | KADAMB – THE CLOSING OF SBKK DANCE FESTIVAL

 

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Yesterday evening Kadamb closed the SBKK Dance Festival with a power-packed and extremely impressive performance. The dance, the costumes, the music and the lighting everything was to the tee. It was very hard to keep the eyes off the stage.

Kadamb did 2 pieces, a classical piece choreographed by the legendary Padma Bhushan, Smt. Kumudini Lakhia Ji and a contemporary piece called Movements and Stills choreographed by Shri Santosh Nair Ji. The music for the classical piece was done by Shri Madhup Mudgal Ji and that of Movement and Stills was done by Mr. Bernhard Schimpelsberger. The lighting was done quite brilliantly by Shri Gyan Dev Singh. He used fantastic gobos to create scenes from the historic Mughal courts. The criss cross lights created a magical effect every now and then.

The dancers were full of energy and displayed sharp skills. Sanjukta Sinhawith her lightening swift moves (as usual), was an absolute pleasure to watch.

In all it was a very refreshing performance and by far the best of the season.

It was wonderful to hear Kumiben tell the audience that she has started practising dance again and would most probably be performing when she turns 90 in the year 2020 on the Kamani stage. What an inspiration!! I can’t wait to witness that.

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – DRISHTIKON HOME STUDIO BAITHAK SEASON II

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“I love to dance Kathak, however, in Drishtikon we love to dance” – Aditi Mangaldas

13th January 2018, Saturday saw the 2nd successful and houseful season of the Drishtikon Home Studio Baithak, this time in collaboration with the India Heritage Desk. A unique platform for upcoming artists, the baithak this time showcased Faraz Ahmed | Vocals, Aamrapali | Kathak and Contemporary and Suraj Subramanian | Bharatnatyam and Oddissi.

The Baithak started with Faraz’s rendition of the classical raag Megh and then the famous thumri “yaad piya ki aye”. At once the studio became electric with people shouting “kya baat hai” at every other instance. Not to forget the amazing harmonium played by Zakir Dhol Puri and tabla by our very own Mohit Gangani.

Faraz was followed by Aamrapali in a soulful interplay with Krishna. Already known for her chakkars, Aamrapali exhibited some very fine Kathak to the audience’s contentment. She also performed a contemporary piece, interestingly using the studio mirrors, wherein she was supported vocally by her sister Mehar Bhandari. A very powerful dancer, Aamrapali was much applauded by the audience.

The final performance of the evening and one of the best was by the Belgium based dancer Suraj Subramanian. Suraj started off with Bharat Natyam, praising the South Indian warrior goddess, Meenakshi. He then moved on to the beloved, Krishna in Oddissi. One of the incredible and fun piece that he did in Bharat Natyam was the protagonist talking about the “Other Woman”. He finalised his performance with a short recital in Oddissi. Although I have very little knowledge about Bharat Natyam and Oddissi, I thoroughly enjoyed his performance.

This time around it was good to see that the Baithak had a much more concentrated audience. A special mention to Aditi Ji for taking pains and leading this project from the front, as in times to come such platforms and presentations would be a lifeline for many forlorn artists and performers.

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW | BHAVANJALI

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“Ya devi sarvabhuteshu, shakti-rupen sansthita, namas-tasyai, namas-tasyai, namas-tasyai, namo namaha”

Rachana Yadav’s performance, Aradhya (extract), at Bhavanjali organised by the Ministry of Culture and Sharda Nritya Niketan at the Kamani Auditorium to mark 101 years of Bharat Ratna, Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi was all about woman, womanhood and woman power, emphasizing the presence of Durga and Shakti in each one. The powerful solo by the veteran was accompanied by the amazing musicians Yogesh Gangani, Mahaveer Gangani and Samiullah Khan while Govind Singh Yadav did the lights for the show.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – NAVAL KATHAK UTSAV | THE WORKSHOP

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Naval Kathak Utsav saw its second edition on the 15th and 16th of November 2017. An initiative by the Samantaa Dance Company, headed by Shubhi Johari and Amit Khinchi, the fest was a combination of morning workshops and evening performances.

Held under the guidance of the revered Padmabhushan, Kumudini Lakhia Ji and assisted by the recent Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awardee, Sanjukta Sinha, the workshops were held in the Meghdoot Theatre at the Sangeet Natak Akademi.

I was a bit taken aback seeing an attendance of a mere 25-30 people attending the workshop on the 16th and that too mostly freshers. I could think of a whole middle level of dancers missing, who are otherwise very enthusiastic and eager to go for workshops, performances, talks and what not all. Even worse was the number of boys attending the session, just a couple?

Well the workshop was fantastic. How I wished, if I could have been a dancer! The pieces being taught were fast and rhythmic. Kumudini Ji and Sanjukta enriched the dancing skills of the students, teaching them small small things about the technicalities, posture, rhythm, musicality etc. of the classical form of Kathak. It was great fun learning from the maestro herself.

It was very disheartening to overhear Kumiben say that this might probably be her last workshop in Delhi or in any other city for that matter. Henceforth, whoever wants to learn from her may have to go to Kadamb in Ahmedabad. “I get tired these days”, she said. Another astonishing fact, according to Kumiben, is that no one has ever called her to take a workshop in Delhi apart from Aditi Mangaldas Ji and that too in the early 2000. This was the first time in so many years. Seriously, this needs to go into the Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Cheers to Samantaa Dance Company for such well-organized enterprises!!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – SANGEET SAMAROH

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If you missed it … you just missed it!!

Gauri Diwakar set the Kamani stage on fire during the Bharati Vidya Bhawan’s Sangeet Samaroh on Wednesday, 8th November 2017.

In an energetic performance, Gauri exhibited the beautiful nuances of the Kathak art form. Performing to the home crowd, her dance took the audience on a striking musical jaunt.

Would she have been nervous with her Guru Pt. Jai Kishan Maharaj sitting on padhant or was it a big support for her?? I wonder … but one thing I could definitely feel was the sense of uneasiness that she had with the musicians. I could relate to the situation as I had met her the day before, at the Habitat, where I came to know that she was utterly stressed due her vocalist falling ill. Getting a vocalist ready in a day is a helluva task! And then somebody who you are performing with for the first time, with no rehearsals at all, definitely makes you go weak on your knees. And I think it is a commendable job for her, to have not only survived it, but she lived up to the audience’s expectations and gave a splendid performance to a standing ovation. Kudos!! A true performer in deed.

A special mention to her amazing costumier Sandhya Raman. I loved the tassel of bells attached to her costume.

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – JHEENI

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One of the most enjoyable performances in the recent days that I have seen was the Mumbai based Sanjukta Wagh’s JHEENI, presented at the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre on the 6th November 2017. It was presented as a part of the India Habitat Centre’s ILF Samanvay 2017.

I remember talking to one of my friends prior to the performance and expressing my doubt, as this was the first time I was watching Sanjukta perform.

To my utter surprise, Sanjukta and her accompanists gave an outstanding performance. Jheeni was a breath-taking amalgamation of Dance, Music and Theatre depicting poems by Kabir, Janabai and Chokhamela.

It was such a treat watching Shruthi Vishwanath play with her bold and melodious voice. All of them, including Hitesh Dhutia (guitar) and Vinayak Netke (tabla) fit perfectly into the dramatic composition. The lighting by Deepa Dharmadhikari, against all odds of the Stien Auditorium, was beautiful and apt.

The only thing that bothered me was the low attendance by the Delhi audience. I am sure Jheeni was a far better performance than the random ones that we witness and flood these days.

Amongst the other dignitaries present at the performance were Mr. Sunil Kothari and Ms. Leela Venkataraman.

Here’s wishing Sanjukta all the very best and looking forward to many such performances in the coming season.

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – AANKHIN DEKHI

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If not the best, this is one of the best performances I have seen in my entire life.” – Anil Baijal, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

I was in sheer doubt if this was really the first production this repertory, led by Tanushri Roy and Nikhil Lal, was performing on stage.

Recently Shrinkhla Dance Company premiered its very first production Aankhin Dekhi at the India Habitat Centre. And, in a very long time I saw a full house at the Stein Auditorium. In fact people were even sitting on the aisles. A scene not very common.

Contextualizing Kabir in the modern times, the performance was presented in Kathak, Chau and Contemporary styles. The dancers were outstanding, each a perfectionist in his | her own style. Everything about Aankhin Dekhi was amazing, be it the costumes, the music, the lighting, the voice over, the anchor etc. The show exhibited the kind of pain undertaken in bringing this production alive.

Amongst the other dignitaries attending the performance were the DG Doordarshan, Ms. Supriya Sahu, DG ICCR, Mrs. Riva Ganguly Das and the acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, Ms. Gita Mittal.

The show started with a half an hour delay, however, the performance surely made up for it.

It is good to see the younger generation come forth with such professionalism and dedication. CHEERS!!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – PRASTAAR

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A powerhouse of Kathak….elegant, beautiful and sharp!

As the classical season in India is turning on to a full throttle, it is very hard to keep a track of who is performing where with so many performances happening each day. Thanks to facebook for keeping us updated with all the “NOT TO BE MISSED” performances.

One such performance that I nearly missed was Sanjukta Sinha performing for the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya’s PRASTAAR festival on the 15th September 2017 at the Kamani Auditorium, Mandi House, Delhi.

Dancing to a houseful audience in Kamani, Sanjukta kept everybody on the edge of their seats with her powerful and swift moves. Many a times I felt that the floor would give up to the supremacy of her footwork. And let me tell you all this splendor of her foot was with a torn ligament. I wonder what she would do without one.

I have heard many people saying that new entrants in the Kathak world aspire to dance like Sanjukta Sinha someday. This makes her even more responsible towards her art and to continue inspiring the future generations.

A specific gobo used to light the second part of her performance gave a beautiful effect enhancing her gorgeous white costume. The musicians (Drishtikon | Ex-Drishtikon repertory) were mind-blowing as usual.

In all, a vibrant and a power-packed performance. Time well spent!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – SURTAAL

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Maya K Nigam, Anjana Welfare Society and associate sponsors presented Surtaal on the 3rd September 2017 at the Azad Bhawan, ICCR, New Delhi. A great effort as a first edition of the Festival, however, I am sure it was a great learning experience for the organisers.

The panel of artists was remarkable with Falguni Kumar presenting Bharatnatyam, Renu Gupta presenting Vocals, Avinash Kumar presenting Vocals, Agam Agarwal presenting Flute, Deepak Gangani and Richa Joshi presenting Kathak and Abhishek Khichi and Anjana Kumari presenting Kathak.

Before I take you through the performance critically, I would like to share with you something that I had learnt during my hotel management days back in 2003. ‘Mise en place’, a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” It refers to the set up required before cooking, and is often used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients that a cook will require for the menu items that are expected to be prepared during a shift. My point in bringing ‘mise en place’ here is that the Festival lacked a proper pre preparation | set up. I am sure my observation and remarks would be taken in the right spirit to improve the forthcoming versions of the festival.

The festival kicked off superbly by Guru Shri Justin McCarthy’s student Falguni Kumar presenting a beautiful Bharatnatyam repertoire. The problem started when the vocalists were to perform. All of a sudden there was chaos on stage and I realised that there had been no tech setup | sound check prior to the show, which meant it would take 15-30 mins to set up the sound. It looked unprofessional as the tech guy on stage kept shouting to the light and sound pit at the back of the auditorium fixing mikes and then the musicians setting up the sound. It should always be a practice to call the musicians a couple of hours before the show to set up the sound so that it is just a couple of minute’s affair before the performance. Similar was the case when Avinash Kumar came to perform. I felt both the performances were overshadowed due to the long waiting time in setting up and most people lost their interest. Agam Agarwal brought back the interest with an incredible rendition of the A R Rahman’s Roza theme on flute to start with but his performance was very short lived with just two pieces presented.

Out of the blue came an awards distribution section which I think was irrelevant at that time and even the performers were unaware of. This could have been done at the very beginning or at the end of the festival. It felt like a corporate or a commercial show quite contrary to being a performing arts festival where the main aim was to felicitate and distribute awards and the performances were fillers.

Another 30 minutes went by before the remaining performances started. By this time the stage was too dirty to even stand on barefoot. It would have been great if a volunteer could have got it mopped once. Secondly, the backdrop was still the white cyclorama (a photographer’s nightmare), which should have been changed to a black backdrop or at least the light technician could have put some colors on it. Ashwini Chopra Ji tried a lot to get it fixed but alas he was unable to.

There were a couple of unattended children who were running up to the stage in turn further delaying the performance.

The best part of the whole festival apart from Falguni Kumar were the two power packed Kathak performances by Deepak Gangani and Richa Joshi and Abhishek Khichi and Anjana Kumari. Both the duos had great synchronization and were quite graceful on stage. A special mention and appreciation to Navneet Pandey from Vastravinyas for both the costumes.

Lastly, a big mistake that I am sure has been committed unknowingly was that Aditi Mangaldas Ji had come in to watch the Kathak performances. The Kathak legend’s presence was an honor for the festival and she should have been called on stage with other dignitaries. Aditi Ji coming on the stage and speaking about the performances would have indeed been a feather to the festival.

I know I sound a bit harsh but would like to sum up my blog with the following famous Hindi phrase:

Nindak neda rakhiye, tan man nirmal hoye!

Here’s to a better ‘mise en place’ during the next edition of SURTAAL!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – DRISHTIKON HOME STUDIO BAITHAK

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Showcasing budding artists … Reviving old traditions

Drishtikon Dance Foundation presented its very first, own Home-Studio Baithak on the 2nd September 2017. In an encouraging initiative to give an intimate platform to upcoming artistes, Drishtikon has started this remarkable concept giving an apt chance to youngsters to show off their skills in front of veterans, critics, organisers, seniors, friends and public.

The entrance to the Drishtikon studio was beautifully decorated with marigold flowers and candles. The studio was very intelligently turned into a mini black box studio which gave an effect of a proper proscenium setting. All sitting area for the audience was neatly covered in white. The lighting was adept and the sound quality incredible. All Drishtikon gang was in white, the girls in suits and the boys in kurta- pajamas, all of them carrying different colored dupatta’s. It was indeed a very positive atmosphere.

People were late and took time to reach the Studio as the roads inside Sainik Farm are nothing less than a jigsaw puzzle. The Baithak started with a delay of half an hour at 7:30 pm. It was more than a houseful with some people standing at the back.

The presentation started with solo renditions by Ashish Gangani on Pakhawaj and Mohit Gangani on Tabla followed by a dynamic and expressive jugalbandi by both. I had never ever seen Ashish and Mohit in such elements. It seemed they had been let lose. I could see the difference in their playing which was very contained and in self-possession whenever they have played it for Drishtikon. This day they were raw and wild and what not all. A special mention to Ashish who did a full piece with single hand mentioning he had practiced it in Drishtikon itself.

From a kid in the flock to a senior repertory member in Drishtikon, Minhaz has matured a lot. It was evident from his attitude, his talks and his dance that he was a part of one of the world’s best Kathak repertory. The proximity of the audience made him a bit nervous at first but soon he also gave in to his true elements. The stage surely seemed less for him. I personally liked the piece that he did from his Father’s repertoire from Banaras Gharana.

Having worked with a Kathak based organisation for so many years I had never thought that other classical forms will ever interest me. I was proven wrong by Suhail Bhan. Disciple of Guru Justin McCarthy, Suhail is an amazing Bharatnatyam dancer. His performance took the audience on to a Carnatic journey down south. A special mention to the vocalist Mr. Satish Venkatesh for his amazing voice.

The last performance, I am me, a contemporary solo by Minhaz was quite touching. It spoke about preconceived notions that people have towards a name, religion, caste, creed, gender, etc. It conveyed a very strong message to the audience. I could see a tear running down here and there. Great work done by Deepak K. S. on mentoring Minhaz on this one.

All the artists were presented with a small pot of flower each. Really appreciate whosoever’s idea it was.

This Home-Studio Baithak at Drishtikon has really left me wanting to see more such Baithak’s in the future. This was my first ever experience of a Baithak and all I can say is CHEERS DRISHTIKON!!

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – Tansen

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Tanna se Tansen tak…Taani se Hussaini tak…Gayak se Nav Ratna tak…Rewa se Agra tak…Ram Chand se Akbar tak…it had all!!

TANSEN presented by Prism Theatre and The Dramatic Art & Design Association at the Sri Ram Centre on the 20th August 2017 was indeed one the best things one could witness at the start of this Music, Dance and Theatre season.

Working all these years with Govind Singh Yadav I have always known him as a very good and sought after Light Design | Support person. Little did I know about this excellent Theatre Director hiding inside him.

Truly speaking at the beginning I had thought that it would be one of the usual boring musicals often seen in the theatres. What took my interest as soon as I entered the auditorium was the set up. I saw three risers on the stage. Two on each side for the four musicians and one in the middle for, I don’t know who. There were two mikes on this centre stage riser. Would there be two vocalists? If yes, then where is the space left on the stage for acting? Tansen should be a big setup with many people, isn’t it? But I could only see a set up for musicians, where are the actors going to do their stuff.

Amongst all these random thoughts the play started. I cannot tell you, what I saw next was pure magic! The play started with the musicians and the two vocalists | hosts taking seats on the centre riser. These two vocalists | hosts, Mohd. Faheem and Sudheer Rikhari, were actually the various characters of the life of the legendary vocalist | musician, Mia Taansen. They played each and every character in the play with such finesse that it seemed those roles were only meant for them. Both of these actors were equally complemented by Ridhima Bagga who played all the feminine characters in the play. The musicians were not just playing the instruments but were also a part of the play delivering dialogues and acting together with the hosts. This was something quite contrary to the musicals usually seen where the musicians sit in the music pit and keep playing music and the characters on stage keep delivering dialogues irrespective of the fact that it is not travelling through to the audience.

It started becoming really interesting when the hosts started interacting with the audience amidst their storytelling, getting them into the enactment, asking them questions and making them sing sargam along with them. The whole auditorium was singing. Their storytelling was very unique and remarkable. It took me into my days of childhood when I used to read Akbar Birbal, Panchatantra ki Kahaniya, Malgudi Days etc. and used to travel to those times and places in my dreams.

I don’t know the technicalities of Theatre and am sure you all have seen much better acts but for me TANSEN was a real visual treat. A special mention to Mohd. Faheem and Sudheer Rikhari for an excellent script, Govind Singh Yadav who lit his own act beautifully and Ridhima Bagga for the apt costumes and not overdoing them. Always ready to watch such outstanding theatre.

Please N.B. – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect it. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – That’s Dancing

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I was very nervous and excited. It was almost after 5-6 years that I was going to see a TDX show in Delhi. While I was working with The Danceworx I had always been either at the backstage or the FOH running around doing things. Today I was going to watch the performances sitting in the audience and the thought of it was making me restless.

The Danceworx Delhi presented THAT’S DANCING at the LTG Auditorium in Mandi House on Sunday the 6h August 2017. There were 2 shows, a matinee and an evening show. I went for the evening show.

I was at the LTG around 45 minutes prior to the show. While in the foyer I could hear Shubha Mudgal’s voice coming from inside the auditorium. Shohini Dutta and Shubha Mudgal, I instantly knew I was in for a treat. The exhibition in the foyer by the photographer of the project, Divye Dua kept me busy for the next half an hour. I loved the exhibit which gave an insight into the project. Just the only thing that bothered me was that there could have been some more photographs in this exhibition and not just the mere handful.

The show started at ten past seven. I was given a seat just next to Mr. Lobo’s, which made me all the more uncomfortable…phew!! Mr. Lobo had flown to Delhi the evening before to encourage the participants and choreographers of THAT’S DANCING.

The performance started with Pankaj Guglani’s CHASE. CHASE was all about getting acquainted to different faces of your own self during the various ups and downs of life. Losing your being for something or someone and upon self–confrontation getting close to yourself all over again.

Now this is what I was waiting for, PIECES OF ME!! During 2010-2011 (when I was working for TDX), I used to run towards the stage upon hearing, “mathura nagarpati kahe tum gokul jao”. I always felt that there is something magical about Shohini and Shubha Mudgal. This time again Shohini had created sheer magic with Shubha Mudgal’s Omiya and Ure Jay. PIECES OF ME spoke about relationships and how we are entangled in them be it people, objects, habits etc. and how we carry them along with us to our final destination.

THE BLUE JACKET by Naomi McCoo was a fun Jazz piece and reminded me of Heidi Wiess’s choreographies for The Danceworx.

Over the years Ragini Bhajanka has matured well as a choreographer and this was evident from her fabulous choreography, AS OF NOW. An amazing piece that made me forget taking photographs and watch the piece with undivided attention. AS OF NOW talks about all the madness of the world and how one dreams only to be sane.

The show finished with Pankaj’s choreography A GAME PLOT. Based on Jaz and variations drawn from Funk, Modern and Ballet, A GAME PLOT was a great end to the evening.

Not to forget the brilliant lighting done by our very own Gyan Dev Singh (Paji).

PLEASE NOTE – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect the efforts. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee

Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – Talaash-e-Haqq

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However many times I have gone to the Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre to watch a performance, I’ve realised that the seats never get full, unless of course you have a large fan following. Is it because the performances at the IHC are not ticketed? I often wonder…

Last Friday, 4th August 2017, I went to the India Habitat Centre to watch Talaash – e – Haqq by Jayashree Acharya. Initially it looked like a very small turnout, however soon the auditorium lit up as Pt. Birju Maharaj Ji and Ms. Saswati Sen made their way to the front seating. Suddenly the hall seemed all charged up and the audience raring to go. The number somehow didn’t matter now. The inauguration candle was lit by Maharaj Ji himself along with the musicians of the day and Ms. Acharya.

Working all these years with Aditi Mangaldas Ji, my bars of looking at or viewing a performance has been set so very high (indebted to her). I remember how Aditi Ji got me to get the backdrop stretched to every inch possible or how the musicians would only sit on a black shrug | carpet or how she would revise the opening sequence of the performance over and over again so that it is all perfect. Now that I look at performances, I see how things could be done better or improved or can look more professional. There are many little things to a performance which are of great concern and needs to be thought of well before.

The starting of the performance was a bit nail-biting as the auditorium people were unable to remove the lamp from the stage in time and were in a totally confused state. Finally, they blew off the candle, even before the performance had started, and took it out from the opposite wing just a second before Ms. Acharya was going to enter. Whew!! That was close. I could now concentrate on the dance.

Talaash – e – Haqq, based on rhythm, melody, movement and poetry beautifully portrayed the bit of love everybody shared with the divine Krishna, be it Radha, Rukmini or any other Gopika entwined in his everlasting love. The performance started with a solo by Ms. Acharya and was followed by other duet and group renditions by Kanchan, Elisha, Nandini and Gauri. After a long time I witnessed a performance which was not just about the usual Kathak footwork but more about beauty, abhinaya, love, Krishna… The musicians were on fire, however, there was an occasional whistling sound in one of the mikes which could have been taken care of prior to the performance.

The show ended on a very emotional note with Saswati Ji requesting all to stand up in a moment of silence for the two eternal losses to the art fraternity, Ms. Veronique Azan and Ms. Shanta Sarbjeet Singh a couple of days ago.

Please Note – I am not an artist or a technical person to comment on or judge any aspect of the performance. I do understand what all pain one takes and the courage one puts up to present such a performance and highly appreciate and respect the efforts. Whatever I write is purely what I feel sitting in the audience.

Photographs @ Arijeet Mukherjee
Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – National Classical Dance Festival

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Last Sunday, 25.06.2017, Chandigarh saw the conclusion of the National Classical Dance Festival organised by

the Department of Cultural Affairs Chandigarh Administration and the Tagore Theatre Society by Elisha Deep Garg and Sunny Shishodiya. With a remarkable number of people rolling in, the finale had Dr. Shobha Koser from Pracheen Kala Kendra as the Chief Guest for the evening.

Elisha and Sunny started the performance with ‘ardhang’, the ‘ardnarishwar swaroop’ of Shiva and Parvati portraying the facets of ‘tandav’ and ‘lasya’ and moved on to a solo presentation by Sunny and then to a duet composition set in taal dhamaar. The audience could not stop clapping to the intriguing and percussive footwork performed by the young duo. Well versed in their art form both Sunny and Elisha complemented each other on stage.

‘Lapak jhapak pag rokat shyam’, Elisha started off the second half with a romantic ‘thumri’ depicting the ‘ched-chad’ between Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. Executed beautifully by Elisha, the finesse and delicate moves of the thumri instantly touched the hearts of the audience. The duo concluded the evening with some excellent renditions in teen taal.

With the kind of power and swiftness that Sunny and Elisha generate through their dance, they completely seemed to dominate the musicians. With an often irrelevant increase in the rhythm (laya) by the musicians, both held their ground to an awesome performance.

Photography @ Arijeet Mukherjee

Copyright @ Artist Association of India

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AAI REVIEW – Sambhaavit

 

Recently UdhayAM Dance Co.’s endeavour SAMBHAAVIT saw its second season at a studio in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. Moving on from 10 participants in its first edition to a whopping 25 people in this one, the 5 day workshop organised by the Kathak duo Aamrapali Bhandari and Mohit Shridhar, from the 7th till the 11th June 2017, was quite a unique affair. A perfect example of the guru-shishya parampara and a one of its kind in Delhi, where in the guru is not actually teaching himself but transitioning the ‘art of teaching’ to his beloved students. As per Aamrapali and Mohit, they want the legacy of their Guru to live forever through their efforts. The purpose, promoting the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak and getting newer people acquainted to it.

The workshop started on the 7th July in the benign presence of the renowned Kathak Guru of the National Institute of Kathak Dance (Kathak Kendra), New Delhi, Pt. Rajendra Gangani. There were people from all over North India, coming from places such as Patiala, Chandigarh, Hissar, Dehradun, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Ghaziabad, Rewari, Chattisgarh and New Delhi. The best part of this workshop was that most of the people knew the basics of Kathak, however, Aamrapali and Mohit did not hesitate to give extra time to people who came from other backgrounds such as theatre etc. as well.

The only concern that I felt was the space constraint. People were already in their inhibitions and the lack of space made it worse. Unable to spread, a couple of people were every now and then getting left behind the league.

Five days of intensive training ended on the 11th June with the participants showcasing their work to Pt. Rajendra Gangani. The day ceremoniously began with Guru Ji’s worship of the Nataraja Murti and blessing the students. I was lucky enough to get his blessings as well. There was a different edge to everybody’s posture today. Everybody wanted to present his/her best. Guru Ji spoke on TIME and its importance in Kathak. It instantly reminded me of Timeless, Aditi Mangaldas Ji’s Kathak based on Contemporary masterpiece. What is Time?!!

The day ended with Certificates being distributed and promises being made to re unite during the next workshop. After this much exciting workshop, Aamrapali and Mohit will now return to their regular place of work at the Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company – The Drishtikon Dance Foundation from the 1st of July 2017 to an year of new ventures and greater heights…

…until the next Sambhaavit – unleashing the hidden potential!

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AAI REVIEW – Gauri Diwakar

…then she trailed her foot on the stage and the sound of her ghungroo’s compelled the audience to say…

Are Wah!! Kya baat hai!!

The audience was held captive this Saturday evening on the occasion of World Dance Day Celebrations at the India International Centre when Gauri Diwakar a much acclaimed Kathak soloist and an Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar and Jaidev Pratibha Puraskar recipient presented an enchanting solo to mark the evening.

The two day Festival curated by the Padmashri Dancer Geeta Chandran Ji showcased Anirudha Knight (Bharat Natyam) and Gauri Diwakar (Kathak) in its Young Dancers Festival section on the 29th.

Gauri Diwakar’s presentation had three parts – Vandana | Mugdha and Resonance (Extract – Hari Ho Gati Meri). Out of these, two were choreographed by her Guru, the eminent Kathak exponent Smt. Aditi Mangaldas.

With the remarkable and powerful chakkars that Diwakar was taking, the stage looked definitely falling short for her performance. The solo renditions on Pakhawaj by Ashish Gangani (Drishtikon repertory) and on Tabla by Yogesh Gangani (Ex Drishtikon repertory) were outstanding. A special mention for the beautiful costume by the ace designer Sandhya Raman.

In all a breath-taking performance that has left everyone yearning for more of Ms. Diwakar’s performances.

Photo Credit: Rahul Naag, India Heritage Desk

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