Kathak is one of the fantastic Indian classical dances that has the ability of blending with various other styles of dance and music. Recently, the City of Dreams, Mumbai, saw a magnificent dance show which was a beautiful blend of Kathak with drums titled Dancing Waters. What made Dancing Waters unique and totally different was that it spoke of conservation of water through the artistic language of dance and music.
The legendary world percussionist A Sivamani along with the super graceful Kathak dancer Neha Banerjee, the seniormost disciple of Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan Pt Birju Maharaj, staged this extraordinary show that made the audience understand the importance of conservation of water. The Mukesh Patel auditorium was packed with guests wanting to support the much-needed cause and also to see the one-of-its-kind blend of Sivamani and Neha’s skills. Sargams, tarana and traditional Kathak format were showcased at the event. I would describe the show’s composition as Teentaal but composed in a very matured manner.
The best part of the compositions was the blend of drums and instruments like violin, tabla, guitar, sitar with Kathak. Great artistes like Vivek Mishra on tabla, Somnath Mishra vocals, Sukhdev Mishra on violin, Rajneesh on keyboards, Utkarsh Shrivastav on guitar and Alka Gujjar on sitar came together to create magic on stage with dance and drums. The choreography was guided by Vijayshree Chaudhary, one of the oldest disciples of Pt Birju Maharaj. Lights and stage designing was by Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Gyandev Singh, show styling was done by Richa Ranawat and dance support was given by the very talented Omkar Gotad.
After the breathtaking show of percussion and dance, I sat down with the magical duo of Neha and Sivamani to ask them why they did what they did and this is what they had to say…
How did this collaboration come around ?
Neha I always wanted to work with Sivamani sir and when I thought of this theme of drums blending in with my Kathak, I could think of no one but the best so this collaboration took place and I am glad it worked out well.
Sivamani Neha came to me with this concept and performing with her was great. Neha being a disciple of my favourite Pt Birju Maharajjimade it even more special for me. The whole theme of water made this concert unique. We tried our level best to support all the important issue of water conservation through this concert.
Why did you choose this theme of Dancing Waters?
Neha We rarely pay importance to water and its conservation. We take Mother Nature for granted. We are living in a world where water will soon be scarce. Through this show, we wanted to awaken people and make them realise the importance of water conservation.
Sivamani Today, we are living in a world where water conservation is a very big issue. Through our show, I wanted to touch this important topic and bring light to the much needed cause and I am glad we succeeded in it.
What was the most challenging and exciting part of the show?
Neha To keep up with the speed of the drums by Sivamani sir as a dancer dancing with electronic instruments like drums, keyboard and guitar where the sound is very high, I was afraid that my footwork may not be audible. Thanks to the really great sound by Herman Lobo, the audience could hear my footwork loud and clear. I was also a bit afraid during the jugalbandi section but I am happy that it turned out to be the best part of the show.
Sivamani I love fusion work. The artiste in me feels a great high and for bringing it on stage with live audience is even better still. I go into a complete trance, this is what is challenging and exciting at the same time for me.
During the show, Ajay Rautaray, Sr DVP, (Accounts) was honoured on behalf of Kotak Life Insurance. Dr Aneel Kashi Murarka ably supported the cause of water conservation and the celebrities from the film and television world could not stop cheering throughout the show. Actress and dancer Shantipriya Ray, Mitaali Nag, DJ Sheizwood, Hansa Singh, Prashant Virender Sharma, Vishal Srivastav, Rajeev Mahavir, Rakesh Paul and many others attended the event.
Dancing Waters by Neha and Sivamani will travel to other parts of India to raise awareness about this neglected cause and take my word, it is a not-to-be-missed show.
Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore, is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with three National Excellence awards, one National Achievement Award and Dada Saheb Phalke award by the Government of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]