Aaj Rung Hai has the focus on a legendary relationship

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When Rupanshi Kashyap of Kadamb Centre for Dance thought of a dance piece with her current students for Abhivyakti edition Two, so it seems, she looked at their teenage group and decided it has to be anchored by a narrative of a fairy tale romance. Then the mature Abhivyakti audience came to her mind, and she thought of an engaging meaningful visual form for it. A passionately dedicated Kathak disciple that she is of Kumudini Lakhia, the reputation of her guru and her second home Kadamb, she knew, had to be enhanced, not lowered, and she grew determined to not let in any element foreign to Kathak. Reassuringly, her friend Mitali Dhruv whispered to her with a smile, again so it seems, ‘Perfect! I will create an artistic ambience for it!’

Good at verbal skills as well, Rupanshi develops a good script in Hindi in a conversational style with a good-humoured undertone. Vedika, the chirpy narrator, at home in that style, has the full-house audience at the Dinesh Hall (10/5) all ears and eyes! Chaliye aaj pyaar ki baat karte hain, she begins uninhibited. At the end she is even more confident, To chaliye hum bhi ek pir aur ek mureed ke milan ka jashn manaate hain. Rupanshi’s dramatic skill – she has acted in plays pretty well – is reflected in the short coordinated episodes she has developed, the action she has visualized for them and given to the dancers.

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The fifty-minute dance drama Aaj Rung Hai focuses on a legendary relationship one can call passionate between a disciple and a spiritual leader (peer) – Hazrat Amir Khusrau, a gifted poet and music composer, and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, a Sufi saint seeking communion with God, of the 13th century. The story of this relationship is interspersed with spicy minor stories like ‘the dhobi who loved a princess’ and ‘meri kavita me-n kaise meethash laau-n?’ ‘Dauli me-n jaate hue Khusrau aur raaste me-n peer ki aati sugandh’ is also one.

Each episode in the dance drama is followed by an endearingly graceful enactment of it in the dance style. Elegantly tall with a sharp-featured visage, Vaishnavi is Nizamuddin Auliya and Aarna, ever alert on her feet, is Amir Khusrau. They have opportunities for ahinaya. Sunidhi, Harshi, Khushi and Saanvi as Mureeds (disciples) with joy and pleasingly form themselves into clusters. Maybe with more mature dancers the episodes could have had a little greater depth, but here the beauty is that teenage students who have spent only four years learning Kathak yet give a feel of a dance drama in the ambience of a bygone era.

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Scenes of Khusrau at the feet of the peer, Khusarau sitting in a dauli getting ushered in, Nizamuddin as a whirling dervish, Mureeds getting ecstatic to Sajanaa tere bina and other qawalis, and all, linger in memory, particularly because girls still learning their Kathak steps and mudras bring them alive. Mitali Dhruv makes her presence felt through designs symbolic of the durgah, the dauli and those two tombs being offered chaddars. Lights are by Dushyant and Raj, costumes by Mahesh.

Rupanshi had reasons to look a bit emotional. All seats were occupied. Her guru Kumiben, for the first time out after a minor knee surgery, was present in the auditorium. At a young age, this was perhaps her best choreographic work to date in Kathak showing the direction it can take even while remaining traditional.

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Photographs Courtesy : Organisers

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