Young, amateur dancers to enthral audience in Mumbai

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The 22nd Raindrops Festival of Indian classical dance could not have come at a better time, for Mumbai is just warming up to the rains.

The festival, starting on Wednesday, presents eight performances by upcoming classical dancers from around the country. Raindrops was initiated by Kathak dancer Uma Dogra in an attempt to create a viable platform for budding dancers.
The festival, which is organised by Dogra’s Samved Society for Performing Arts, is spread over three days. It opened with a group performance of Kathak by Dogra’s students, followed by a performance by Odissi dancer Sanchita Bhattacharya. Over the next two days, several young and popular classical dancers including Richa Gupta, Kadambari Khase, Anuradha Singh, Ritwika Ghosh, Hithaishy Dhanan and Rahul Acharya will take the stage at the festival.
For the past two years, the festival has been helmed by Dogra’s proteges, her senior student Indrayanee Mukherjee and her daughter, dance writer Suhani Singh. After 20 years of single handedly organising Raindrops, Dogra felt it was time she passed the baton to the next generation.
Kuchipudi dancer Hithaishy Dhanan, who will be performing at Raindrops on July 6, will begin her performance with a naandi sloka, a piece performed to sanctify the stage. “The main piece is a tarangam, performed to a famous composition of Oothukadu Venkata Subba Iyer, Marakata Manimaya, in which I will also dance on a Neena Sondhibrass plate,” she says.
Dhanan has trained in Kuchipudi with Vyjayanthi Kashi and Uma Muralikrishna, apart from taking lessons in abhinaya under Gopika Varma. Although she is proficient in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam, she has chosen to concentrate on Kuchipudi. On being asked if her knowledge of two styles results in times where she may find a reference point from one style complementing the other, she remarks that she finds the nuances peculiar to Odissi in the Kuchipudi style of Vempati Chinna Satyam. She says, “There is a slight swing of the torso in some of the movements, which I particularly notice in the older items Master (Satyam) has choreographed. Also some of the turns (bhramaris) are stylistically close to the turns performed in Odissi.”
Blending the best of the Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas, V. Anuradha Singh performs Kathak on July 7. Singh, who is based in Bhopal, has trained under venerable Kathak gurus, like Pt. Kartikram, Pt. Ramlal, Pt. Durgalal and Pt. Birju Maharaj. She holds a masters’ degree in Kathak from the Indira Kala Sangeet University. She plans to take the audience through the traditional Kathak repertoire, beginning with a prayer dedicated to Saraswati, the goddess of learning. She has a section focusing on tatkar (footwork), followed by a thumri and a tarana.
Singh is well aware of the changing milieu of dance and the need to make it relevant to wider audiences. Addressing the lack of percussive arts that use the feet, she has developed a performative idiom called “ghunghroo vadan”, which she performs at festivals of classical music. “Ghunghroo vadan is pure foot percussion, which is performed standing in one place. It is not a dance piece. I also perform classical Sufiyana Kathak because Sufi kalams have simple lyrics that touch heart easily. It does not lack the rigour of Kathak though the pieces are composed and choreographed with musicians so that the element of Kathak is well established in the choreography. It works well when we perform to a large audience,” she explains.

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