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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