Art to Heart – an evening by Lata Surendra

 Art to Heart – an evening by Lata Surendra

When the sea of knowledgeable and eminent practitioners of the art get together under one roof, what does one expect? Either there are fireworks between them or an evening is turned into a pulsating cosmos. The evening curated by Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra was nothing short of that. The talks and the performances based on the theme Ardhang – in every half exists the other that followed kept the viewers in total awe. I spoke with Dr Surendra about this magical evening that she brought forward for all the dance lovers. Excerpts from the interview:

Kalashri Dr Lata Surendra

What made you come up with such a great idea?
There is so much seeking to be explored, re-discovered within us and awaiting to be shared, a conference and converging through performances like this provides all artistes space to reach out with their viewpoint and for the students and rasikas, it accords an idea of what actually goes into the creative process. It is important to converge as a fraternity, to ensure the perpetuation of the art in this world of breaking news. The sustaining of the artist and the art through the spoken and delineated word should awaken all to Dance, as a bridging metaphor linking worlds. That is why I thought of organising this day-long dance enlightenment session.

Aditya and Varsha. Pic credits – Girish Nambiar   

Who were the speakers at the event?
We had some dynamic speakers, who spoke of their extraordinary life filled with dance. The speakers were, Dr Uma Rele (Principal Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya, Juhu, Mumbai), Padmashri Sunayana Hazarilal (Kathak), Kalaratna Guru Smt. AB Balakondala Rao-Balakka (Kuchipudi), Dr Jayashree Rajagopalan(Bharatanatyam), Smt Rajashree Shirke (Kathak), Guru Lata Raman(Bharatanatyam), Dr. Aruna Bhikshu (Kuchipudi), Prateesha Suresh (Sattriya) and Jigar Soni (Folk-Garbha). The timeless journey when Diksha was an absolute communion unto their eminent Gurus was so intensely absorbing for some that time stood still for them. Infact their journey down memory lane awakened all young teachers and disciples to the defining threads that was embraced in the meaningful bond between Guru and Shishya. I believe, one should have more Art to heart chats in the city to raise common platforms where artistic gupshups could happen to resolve many a storm in artistic tea-cups.

Uma Rele and Vaidehi Rele. PIc credit – Girish Nambiar 

At your show Ardhang – in every half is the other you urged artist to explore, right?
The prelude was set with the sound and silence defined through an intricate Alarippu in Sankeernajathi Triputa Thalam (13 ahsharams) by my disciple Ananya Mohan Iyer. The live orchestra with my dance deftly wielded the Nattuvangam, melodious Keerthana Krishnan Vocal, Shri Chandran – Mridangam and Violin by Balasubramaniam highlighted the Guru-Shishya connect beautifully. The cross-rhythms, the potent silence and sound interludes and the dialogue between thalam, percussion and Visual kinesthetics of Bharatanatyam caught everyone’s attention. The interesting aspect was the weaving of Surdas’s composition into the traditional Dhanyasi Varnam by Papanasam Shivam that followed, to have the cosmopolitan crowd connect to the colour that is a Varnam, highlighting the universality of emotions in man be it any terrain.

Manisha Jeet with her disciples. Pic credit – Girish Nambiar 

You had a flood of artist depicting Ardhang…, please tell us more.
Guru Jhelum Paranjape (Odissi) highlighted that lyrics and words, the instrument and chords, the dance and the dancer, the Lord and the devotee are never mutually exclusive of each other. With the child comes to life the Mother! A bond that, was evocatively explored by Dr Uma Rele & Dr Vaidehi Rele. Mitali Varadkar & Shreya Sabharwal brought the connect of Jeeva with Atma through Adi Shankaracharya’s Nirvanashatakam. Aditya Anukula (Kuchipudi) and Nattuvanar with Kum Varsha Pachhava showcased oneness of Shiva and Parvati, through the composition by Pulyur Pallavi Doraiswami Iyer, Adenamma in Paras. Bhang – Abhang the enlightening of Kamdev by the Enlightened one – Buddha was shown by Guru Ranjana Phadke (Kathak). We associate manmatha with Shiva whose wrath reduced Kamdev to ashes but when the same arrows were directed on Buddha, Kamdev got enlightenment.

Disciples of Guru padmini Radhakrishnan. Pic credit – Girish Nambiar

Parvathy Menon (Kuchipudi) brought out the dualistic aspect of Mother Nature as the merciless and all – merciful. Rohini and Ashwini Vij showcased balancing equanimity gathered through the introspective mind aligning conflicting thought processes. Sujatha Nair (Mohiniattam) brought to life the romance between the wave and the shore through Khalil Gibran’s poem – Song of the wave. Smriti Raj communicated a strong message through Chapthilak by Amīr Khusrau the Indian Sufi singer, I am in you and you in me. Chetan Saraiya (Kathak) explored Sambhog Sringara love in union through Radha and Krishna and Viyog Sringar through Meera. Rain as nurturing hope and drought as the negation was presented by disciples of Guru Geetha Venkateshwar.

Ananya. Pic credit – Girish Nambiar

The other side to everything in this world through the character of Sage Dronacharya was what the Anu Harshal (Kathak) presented. Aham Nrityam (I am the dance) gathered the poetic synergy of two styles Sujatha Swaminathan (Bharatnatyam) and Pallavi Raisurana (Kathak). Tandava and Lasya signifying the duality of energies, was shown through Taal Dhamaar – a 14 beats Rhythmic cycle by Isha Kathavate (Kathak). Manas Samvaada, a conversation between Manas and the emotions explored the intertwined relationship between Hope and Fear shown by Dr Aruna Bhikshu (Kuchipudi) and Mahata Bhikshu Ameya. K Nambiar depicted Prakruti and Purusha through the Ardhanareeswara Stotra by Sri Adi Shankaracharya.

Isha Kathavate performing Kathak. Pic Credits – Girish Nambiar

Saritha Nidheesh and Guru Manisha Jeet (Kathak) defined Ardhang through the antonyms – stillness and movement! Space and time gives birth to stillness and movement that causes lethargy and energy, which was related to Vilambit and Drut laya. Guru Kalamandalam Vijayshree Pillai (Kuchipudi) invoked Goddess Saraswati as the epitome of wisdom nullifying ignorance. Harihara- the different aspects of the same Ultimate Reality Brahman were explored disciples of Guru Padmini Radhakrishnan. Dusk and Dawn endorsing diverse canvases mirroring new beginnings and the conclusive end that rounds all life was highlighted by Dr Chandrika Sundaresan (Bharatnatyam).

Jhelum Paranjpe. Pic credit – Girish Nambiar

Aditi Yadav (Kathak) highlighted Diksha as the complete bonding carrying transitions in the journey from mime to a spontaneous delineation. Visual Story teller Debabrata Pal depicted the amrut manthan & kurma avatar, painted by his feet with the symbolic churning depicted through dance. My disciples and Suresh Pednekar explored light and shade through – dancing shadows. Charushila Golam (Lavni) and Mukesh Darbar (Folk) embraced oneness through rhythms. All I can say is that I know Ardhang moved every heart present at the show.

Sandip Soparrkar holds a doctorate in world mythology folklore from Pacific University USA, an honorary doctorate in performing arts from the National American University, He is a World Book Record holder, a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honored 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]



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