Varsha Dasgupta and Era Dogra: Two rising stars in Kathak

Text: Dr Sunil Kothari

Era Dogra in a Thumri

Disciples of Guru Geetanjali Lal, Vidha and Abhimanyu Lal, Varsha Dasgupta and Era Dogra, the rising stars in Kathak firmament gave a scintillating performance at The Little Theatre Group under the aegis of young entrepreneur Tamasha Entertainments on June 2.

Receiving training under the reputed Gurus for the past 12 years, both the budding dancers have now mastered the Jaipur Gharana technique in an admirable manner.

Of the six numbers, they presented their duets were remarkable for complete synchronisation of arms, hand gesture and arriving on the same. What in technical parlance of Kathak is known as ‘ang’ bodily postures, they executed well displaying its aesthetic beauty. Both these dancers executed youthfulness and with their colourful costumes looked like miniature paintings.

In Hari Hara opening duet, describing the attributes of Lord Shiva, Hara, and Lord Krishna, Hari, one after another they created their images with hastas, hand gestures, appropriate expressions and showing Shiva with his matted locks, Ganga flowing from the Jata, Krishna with his peacock feather and flute, Shiva with tiger skin, Krishna with Pitambar and so on. The word Adha, Adha – half and the other half was poetically performed. Their entries with flawless chakkars and stances were captivating.

Vidha Lal had choreographed for individual presentation of each dancer thumri. Era with upaj ang in thumri ‘Dekho hathilo Shyam’ in Desh raga with tuneful Sarangi enacted in what various ways Krishna teases her and she shows mock anger. She as Mugdha nayika decorates herself with flowers, puts on bindi, ornaments and walks in a graceful manner with allure. Taking palta she showed how Krishna broke her pot when she was carrying it over her head,  how he stops her from going, ‘maga rokat’,  when she goes to river Yamuna to fetch water, Krishna came suddenly and broke her mataki, pot. Stealing butter, Gopi catches him red-handed and complains to mother Yashoda. Krishna asks forgiveness holding corners of his ears. The gestures were so endearing that Gopi forgives Krishna.

Varsha Dasgupta and Era Dogra

In a sequence, Era stands in the centre and Varsha takes chakkars, pirouettes around her, then Varsha stands in the centre and Era takes rounds around her, creating visual patterns, their costumes also flowing along with their chakkars.

In ashtamangal tala, their duet stood out for their taiyyari, and command over footwork, execution of tode, tukde, uthan etc. Their utplavans, jumps were eye-catching. The joyous mood pervaded their entire frame.

It was in final number Varsha Mangal, rain, in Megh raga and Teen tala that one saw both of them in their element. Complementing each other while dancing they created the ambience of the rainy season, papiha bird singing, lightning and raindrops gradually falling. With footwork, the imagery of raindrops was beautifully conveyed. Their footwork in nature of jugalbandi won them rounds of applause. ‘Garje bijali barse meha’ the sound of lightning and of rain were created graphically, the peacock bird dancing, helpless nayika missing her heart beats during the rainy season awaiting her beloved, all these nuances were conveyed becoming their young age.

As young nayika both of them when they put on ornaments and look into the mirror,  they would do well to delineate when decorating themselves, look into the mirror, admire themselves at their own beauty and place the box of ornaments away and then walk and dance gracefully, full of an awareness of their own youth.

Both the dancers did their gurus proud. This was their first attempt to present their recital under a new organisation, professionally and it was heartening to see a full house, as the audience had bought the tickets. That augurs well for the two rising stars but also for the dance scene in general.