Abhilasha’’ the XII Jivan Pani Memorial Festival, became an occasion for many aspirations and recognitions. Dedicated to Swachh Bharat, the event mounted by Centre for Classical Dances headed by Dr.Sonal Mansingh, had Dr.Mahesh Sharma Honourable Minister of State for Culture and Tourism as guest of honour, to confer the Jivan-Ratna-Samman on Dr.Piyambada Mohanty Hejmadi the first lady of Odissi as she has been known. The evening ended with quotes from Sastras by the individual dancers, which were summarised by Dr.Sonal Mansingh who while extolling the Indian idea of ‘swachh’ spoke of cleanliness as an extended concept concerning the inner human being’s mind and consciousness. The evening could not have had a more sonorous and swachh start than the Sama Gana chanting which, so completely aligned with the tanpura drone, was serene meditation.

Confining the dancers featured in the programme to three up and coming male artists was a wise gesture – for the male performer in to-day’s scenario needs the helping hand of sponsors to survive.
One wishes that Sanjib Bhattacharya the Manipuri dancer had made better use of the occasion for establishing his credentials. His performance was a mockery of his Guru Bipin Singh’s style. With a harsh foot- stomping rhythm, with feet clad in ankle bells coupled with exaggerated facial expressions, what he presented was most unManipuri like. And compounding the unsatisfactory dancing was the totally ‘’besura’’ music – the percussion instruments tonally clashed and along with it was the abysmally off-key vocal support. A talented person like Sanjib must pull up his socks, and get back to the training regimen and refresh himself with the basics of the form, which he seems to have lost somehow.

Young Dipjyoti Das , very presentable in the Sutradhari cap,( with the front of his costume different from the customary skirt of the Sattriya dancer) with his serene and fine stage presence gave a very pleasant Sattriya recital, the description of the DevakiVasudeva Nandakumar, with ‘pankaja nabha’ and lotus eyes, with Kamsa trying to unsuccessfully destroy the graceful girl child substituted for Krishna, rendered with great involvement. The Sutradhari reciting episodes of Krishna’s feats was another expressive item. What one enjoyed was the sruti perfect singing coupled with neat clarity in rhythm on the Khol. The devotional aspect of Sattriya stood out strongly, in the short recital.

Quincy K. Charles with his Kathak rounded off the evening on the right note. When the average Kathak performer to-day is shying away from abhinaya items, to see this committed non –Indian performer show the virahotkanthita Nayika’s deep longing expressed through gestures and mukhabhinaya, interpreting the sung words “Shyam GhanaShayam, Barson bahut pyar pyaasi hoon” first in the seated posture and then in slow movements in the erect standing posture, was a very heartening feature. Very graceful in his chakkars and stances, Quincy is a dancer to take note of. The nritta in Vasant tala, set to raga Vasant, brought to the fore Quincy’s understanding of rhythmic subtleties. Now under the guidance of Prerana Shrimali, it is obvious that this dancer has been working very hard – with the results in his performance for everyone to see. The event concluded with Founder and Secy-General of International Delphic Council Mr.JCB Kirsch conferring on Dr.Sonal Mansingh the position of Chief Adviser of the World Culture Forum for India.


Away from this event was Ranjini Nair a disciple of Guru Rama Rao and Vanashree Rao presenting her solo Kuchipudi recital at the IIC auditorium. One hoped that here was a start to a career rising above another merely correct and pretty performer, of whom one has several today. Gifted with stage presence and talent, Ranjini has acquired the necessary foundation to build on. With a honed sense of rhythm as noticed right through and particularly in the Tarangam (balancing on the rim of a brass plate and executing challenging rhythmic footwork), she also has a mobile ability for facial expressions. What her dance requires is more of the inner dancer’s involvement. Shivashtakam for instance had all the technical correctness but without the fire and passion of this deity coming out in the rendition. In the Javali “Vani pondu tsalu vadane” the facial changes revealed a facility which needed to make a stronger statement about the khandita’s bite. In the Kaliya Nartanam item too, performed effortlessly, the dance must go beyond bland rhythmic virtuosity and not lose sight of the central motif of Krishna’s dancing on the hood of a snake rather than the bare floor. This feel to be subtly communicated (and have seen some dancers do this) has to be felt by the dancer. These aspects will evolve with experience depending on the kind of commitment this young dancer reveals in the coming years. Guru Rama Rao’s fine nattuvangam, Satish Venkatesh’s melodious singing, Tanjavoor R.Kesavan’s mridangam rhythm and Rajat Prasanna’s enchanting flute comprised the musical team accompanying the dance.


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