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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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