Friday, 28 December 2012

Music, talk and dance: Day 3 at Natya Kala Conference

Gita Govindam has been among the favourites of classical dancers for quite a long time. And the Dasavatara Strotra portraying the ten incarnations of Vishnu gives a lot of scope for the dancers to express their interpretations through Abhinaya. Dr. Subhas Pani, IAS (Retd), who served as secretary in the Planning commission, took up this topic for his presentation today (Dec. 28) at the Natya Kala Conference held at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

He said he has close connections with Gita Govinda from the time he was not even in his teens, but sang the Ashtapadis for his father Dr. Raghu Nath Pani's dance drama in Odissi style.

Explaining the key concepts of Dasavatara Stotra, he showed samples of choreography for the composition through pictures and a short video clip of the dance drama in Odissi.

The conference continued with the presentation of Dasavatara in Koodiyattam, a form of dance enacting Sannskrit dramas in the temples of Kerala. Young Sooraj Nambiar, a Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar awardee, presented the ten avatars elaborately singing along the phrases. A powerful presentation full of poise it was. The Narasimha avatara portrayed by him was appreciated by the audience with a huge applause.

It was then time for some music and stories of relationship of dance with Harikatha. Visaka Hari, popular for her Harikatha with extensive rendering of songs traced the history of Harikatha to Narada and then to the Ramayana, said to have been sung through Rama's twin sons Lava and Kusha. She took references from the ancient Tamil work Tholkappiam to show the existence of this form in the olden eras.

Visaka pointed out that dance is an essential component in Harikatha. Marathi keerthanas of Samartha Ramadasa and Arunachala Kavirayar's nataka keerthanas are all forms of dance dramas used in Harikathas as well as in dances, she added. She traced the history of this art from the legendary Harikatha Pitamaha Adibhatla Narayana Das from Andhra Pradesh, Ananta Padmanabha Goswami who the royal composer Swati Tirunal considered his guru to Thanjavur Krishna Bhagavathar and Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, who lived not long ago.

Vishaka sang 'Eppo varuvaro' by Gopalakrishna Bharathi to express the anguish of Nandanar to see Lord Siva, enacting it through the bhavas while singing. She made her point that the dancers should know the 'katha' (story) well to express the emotions in their presentation. She concluded her session with a song 'Kanaka sabhai thirunatanam' to a standing ovation from the audience.

After a short break, talks by Sadanand Menon, curator of arts and a journalism teacher followed by Dr. Chitha Madhavan, a research scholar in history and archaeology were scheduled for the day.

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