Sai Nrityotsav 113: A Melting Pot of Classical Dances

Text: Kavitha Krishnamurthy

Sai Arts International celebrated its 113th Sai Nrityotsav at Shukra Auditorium in Bangalore on October 1, 2018. It was an evening filled with exuberant performances. The monthly festival began with the performance of Swathi Athmanathan. She kick-started her performance with a Dikshitar’s Kriti, ‘Ardhanarishwara’ in raga Kumudakriya set to tala Adi. She followed it up with ‘Om Shakti’, a composition of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar and concluded with a Thillana in raga Brindavana Saranga and tala Adi.

Guru Shakuntala Raghavendra presented her student Sheetal Umbrey R. The audience responded enthusiastically to her performance. She commenced her recital with Saptaswara in raga Kalyani set to tala Adi. Next, she showcased ‘Shiva Kantha’, a Kriti composed by Shankaracharya in raga Hamir Kalyani set to tala Misra Chapu. She exhibited her skills in abhinaya with a Kavali ‘Balleno’ by Bheemesh Vitthala and a ‘Devaranama’ by Kanakadasa. All the compositions were choreographed by Guru Shakuntala R Prabhat and beautifully executed by Sheetal.

Sneha Venkataramani, a disciple of Padma Bhushan awardee Guru Dr Saroja Vaidyanathan gave a brilliant performance with every aspect of her performance – music, nritta, expressions and the repertoire itself were thoroughly enjoyable. She depicted an episode from the life of Tirugyana Sambandar, a saint who according to scriptures was fed by Goddess Parvati herself when he was an infant. It was depicted through a Kauthuvam in raga Arabhi set to tala Adi. Next was a Kshetrayya Padam ‘Ninne Penladu’. In this Padam, the dancer portrayed three different Nayikas – Mugdha, Madhya and Pragalbha who demanded that Krishna should marry them. They remind him of all the promises he made to each one of them. The dancer brought out a clear difference in character through her Abhinaya and body language. She concluded her performance with a Krithi describing the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The composition was set in Ragamalika and tala Adi.

Nidhaga Karunad, a Bangalore based artiste, trained under Karnataka Kalashree Guru Dr Suparna Venkatesh mesmerised the gathering. One of the most sort after male dancers of the present time, Nidhaga’s performance was a treat to the eyes. He chose to present a Varnam paying an ode to the Sapta Matrikas namely Brahmi, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Varahi, Narsimhini, Chamundi and Koumini. What particularly caught the eyes of the rasikas was the depiction of Goddess Meenakshi’s story in one of the Sancharis. The Varnam was composed by Guru Dr Suparna Venkatesh and brilliantly executed by Nidhaga.

The last presentation of the day was a Kuchipudi solo performance by Namrata Mandala. She opened her recital with a Thyagaraja Kriti ‘Bala Kanakamaya’ in raga Attana set to tala Adi. She continued with another Krithi, ‘Bhajare Gopalan’ composed by Sadasiva Brahmendra in raga Hindola set to tala Adi. She concluded with Bhamakalapam Pravesha Daruvu, composed by the renowned Siddhendra Yogi. The evening turned out to be a complete bliss for the art lovers who came to witness the festival.