Kadamb keeps to the roots even as it gets in tune with contemporary sensibility

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Seems it was the harvest time at Kadamb’s annual celebrations held on 24th and 25th this month. A rich yield and a promise of bounteous years ahead for the Kathak Centre of international repute left dance lovers enthralled on the second evening and reaffirmed to them how both Kumudini Lakhia and her Kadamb she has nurtured with passion and a vision are the pride of this city. Even as it carries forward a cherished classical dance tradition, it looks stepping in tune with the contemporary sensibility with its students dedicated to preserving the legacy.

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Four dainty productions – Upaj, Thumri, Gati, Movements and Stills – were presented, all having such exquisite visual and aural dimensions to them that they could be a delight to watch anytime, anywhere. Following Upaj, Sanjukta’s expression of Radha’s eternal mystical love for Krishna, as much with eyes and face as with mudras and languid body language, on Bindadin Maharaj’s Thumri quatrain Brijabhaan Nandini … in Sawani Mudgal’s voice revived memories of Vivarta as part of which she had initially done the portrayal in March 17 in the presence of Madhup Mudgal, who has set it to exceptionally evocative music that, fully played, enters your pores and enlivens whole being like the first touch of Vasant.

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When the seven young dancing girls slough off their portrayals and become natural light full-grown Kadamb flowers again in Gati along with Rohit (Delhi), they are no different. Like the Sakhis they had portrayed, with the Sarangi notes and percussion Tritaal rhythm magically moving their feet with alluring tinkles, they form themselves into kaleidoscopic patterns. Their eyes exchange glances, lips smile, faces glow, fingers paint in the air and with a confluence of colours (costumes designed by Anuvi) their bodies engage in a joyous nonverbal dialogue. In Kadamb’s signature choreography the dancers sit in a dignified group and make kinetic communication to each other.

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Kadamb is fifty but, as the compere with the demeanour of a dancer and good articulation Piyalee in probably her maiden performance observed, the centre shows no signs of ageing. The centre’s director Kumudini Lakhia, who shares the trait and has been open to new ideas, welcomed a workshop and collaboration in a production with Santosh Nair, whose style seeks to innovatively combine the traditional and the contemporary in dance. Movements and Stills, as the nomenclature suggests, explores convergence of the two styles without working on a theme.

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Demonstrating flexibility of limbs and adaptability to the form allied in movement the dancers, including Pankaj, rock in the new medium they have adopted in their quicksilver movement on stronger electronic rhythm of a German variety enchantingly in (Harry’s) lights and shades in the production as Anuvi’s costume designs take on mystifying hues. There are times when the rhythm dramatically subdues and the control of body movement creates tantalizing glimpses of depth. Cherished moments come up when in that subdued mood, silence ensues and it is rhythmically broken with snapping fingers. Reassuringly, Kathak remains assertive in the collaboration. Reassuring again that Krutika, Mihika and Vidhi, not as experienced as the senior dancers Sanjukta, Rupanshi, Manasi and Mitali, are in step with them here as in the earlier segments.

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Earlier on 24th, all a hundred and fifty students, kids and just twenty plus, danced – with greater excitement of the parents on and off the stage as the young compere RJ Radhika, who also learns dance at Kadamb, in her zestful characteristically chirpy style said. Each year-wise group, it was noticeable, had received fond care and affection of the respective teacher, proficient in Kathak, in charge of it and it was cast in a bit of fresh choreography with a touch of imagination. Nandini had the kids, youngest of all, do a stuti to Jagajjanani Narayani and Nilima’s group, a year senior, both close to twenty-five in number, did Anubandh, in which the initial continuity in dance was introduced. Manasi’s budding dancers endearingly endeavoured in Bansiwala to weave in the right expression for Mor-mukut-dhaari and aajo and abahu-na-aaye…! Nandini bought another of her groups seeking to connect with nature through images of flying and flowing in Paankh.

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Rupanshi is known for bringing in a bit of drama in her dance and she sprang a surprise in Backstage with the depiction of a struggle that young pursuers of an art form face in reality. Kumiben’s relatively senior students stepped in with a touch of finesse in Kalavati Saragam complete with major elements of the dance form Nilima’s graceful senior dancers in Lavanya turned playful Gopis fondly describing sundaravadana Krishna in a Surdas Bhajan… Sanjukta’s group was at the buoyant best with traditionally expressive music and dancers’ movement and mudras. Backstage gave hints of dimensions that may possibly creep in during the years to come. Kalarippayattu’s entry in Kadamb with its local exponent Pappan and a breathtaking performance in the style by all the known current dancers in Roots signify, as does the workshop production of the second day, that the Kathak icon Kumudini Lakhia throws open Kadamb’s portals to contemporary creative ideas not unrelated to the tradition. If the viewers had their way, they would have had Roots done again on the second and concluding day!

Photo Courtesy : Organiser

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