Masculine energy and feminine charm in the dancing couple’s Kathak at Saptak

Abhimanyu Lal and Vidha lal
Image Credit : Esplanade.com

Kathak dancers Vidha and Abhimanyu Lal have complementary traits. One naturally excels in the feminine lasya aspect of dance, the other in the masculine one. At Saptak when they gave a performance last Saturday, Abhimanyu came across as one fond of communicating verbally in modern parlance besides having a pretty good singing voice and dancing feet. Stressing rigorous practice, Vidha once said in an interview, ‘A classical dance form is like mathematics.’ Abhimanyu, when he dances, has that accuracy. When Vidha dances, she puts vivacity into her performance.

Disciples of his mother Geetanjali Lal of Jaipur gharana, who was in the audience that thinned out after Ustad Shujaat Khan’s spellbinding Sitar recital concluding at midnight, the young dancing couple from Delhi gradually developed a pretty good rapport with the audience, quite a few of them budding dancers, which sat through the performance that ended at close to two in the morning. They began with an engaging delineation of Lord Shiva and Shree Krishna, highlighting major episodes from their lives in raag Baairagi. The conclusion of their performance was with getting the audience’s cheerful participation emulating the beats accompanying their footwork with claps.

In between, the couple with the ease that comes through practice demonstrated their proficiency in bol, Uthan, Paran, Aaroh-Avaroh, Chakkars and other elements integral to Kathak – both together and solo. What gave a bit of character to the duo’s performance however were the thematic solos done by them. Abhimanyu did one on Draupadi Cheeraharan and Vidha did Savaai. Cheeraharan also gave the female dancer time for her special aharya, including her special costume, for the scintillating performance of Savaai.

For the visual narrative with a good instrumental support (Percussion: Aman Ali, Mahaveer Gangani; Sarangi: Ikram Khan) Abhimanyu employs all the three major aspects of performance – nritta, nritya and naatya with abandon. With a scarf on, he sketches Shakuni, Duryodhana and Duhshashan besides Draupadi in the eminently known episode from the Mahabharat spectators applauded. He recited the opening line and then the vocalist Santosh Sinha took over in his melodious voice.

On completion of Abhimanyu’s solo, Vidha slides in with Savaiya, which is remarkable for its pleasing spectacle and a lyrically romantic theme with Radha and Krishna as characters. Krishna is not seen on the stage. It is the nayika who conjures him up portraying his traits and ornamentation. She longs for her union with him.  She stealthily looks around in the forest and on hearing his signature notes from the flute she searches him out and feels exhilarated. ‘I would be like you in every respect,’ she sings, ‘and as for that flute on your lips, I would have them on mine!’

It is the dancer’s sparkling eyes, brilliantly lit-up visage, intricate mudras, her slow-paced gait, slide and slantwise chakkars as much as the enchanting patterns of her multi-coloured outfit that express her intense desire to be one with the loved one in the short performance. The design of the dancer’s full-blue width of the costume set in relief by the red of the full draper and dashes of gold add to the pleasing spectacle particularly in her pirouettes and images of a peacock spreading out all its feathers in full splendour.

It needs to be noted, even if reluctantly, that ‘popular’ humour (‘Avoid smoking, alcohol and being in front of the wife’) and a bit of rhetoric (‘We had been waiting for years for this opportunity.’) sound a bit bizarre in an ambience of high aesthetics.

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