There are many dance events one goes for, from classical to folk from modern to contemporary but I recently had the privilege of being a part of one with a heart. Samapravaaha was a very special event organised by the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) Mumbai where the entire dance community of Mumbai came together and performed in aid of the disaster in Kerala.
I really do not have any words to thank the NCPA chairman Khushroo Suntook for organising Samapravaaha. This magical evening was a collective effort of the dance community and I am so lucky to be a part of it. Just to give you some background on it. It was the idea of the NCPA chairman to have events at NCPA to raise funds for the cause. They raised money through Western music and Indian music concerts as well. Along with this, NCPA offered their grandest theatre, the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, for Samapravaaha to raise as much funds as they could and NCPA employees even donated a part of their salary for the noble cause.
The dance programme head of NCPA, the highly creative and gorgeous Swapnokalpa Dasgupta, reached out to the dance community with the idea of a multi-dance presentation in aid of Kerala. And the response she was overwhelming. Many were individually thinking of doing something to help the state so when she proposed a multi-dance event, most received it with open arms. The 11 artistes and their troupes not only performed but proactively helped NCPA raise funds by helping gather audiences. It was very touching to have senior dancers donate poems which stirred the soul of each audience member in the auditorium.
On the show day, there were nearly 100 people backstage where one saw everyone was giving, everyone accommodating and trying their best to help. Someone arranged for photographers, someone arranged for a hospitality partner, someone helped with promotions and everyone helped with ideas. It was not just dancers but even the talented light designer Sushant Jadhav donated his services.
Talking about Samapravaaha, Swapnokalpa said, “This show was specially special because the NCPA CSR children from underprivileged school, who have been learning from their teacher Latasana Devi for three years, performed Manipuri dance in front of a packed audience. This was the first time they performed in a professional setting. The evening was magical. I have no words to thank all the artistes who helped me put this together.”
The evening started with an elegant and graceful Kaikopttikali (dance from Kerala) performance in the foyer by the ladies wing of the Bombay Yogakshema Sabha. It was choreographed by Kalashri Lata Surendra. Followed by stage opening with Daksha Mashruwala and Kaishiki, she presented Mangalam, a chant invoking the elements for peace and prosperity, which was an apt beginning to the evening.
Then was a Marathi poem, written by Shubhada Varadkar, who along with Sanskrita Foundation presented Virani, a dance presentation based on Sant Dyaneshwar’s literature depicting the omnipresence of Lord Krishna in nature. Seema Mehta and Chhandam presented a unique Kathak Yoga piece where the dancers sang the shloka, naghma and perform complex polyrhythm. The piece opened with an ode to Lord Shiva. Kathak yoga requires tremendous stamina as the dancer requires to sing while dancing and is an innovation within tradition by the late legendary Guru Chitresh Das.
Kalashree Lata Surendra and Anjali, the seniormost disciple of the legendary Guru TS Kadirvelu Pillai, presented Call of my Paradise highlighting the awakening sieved through the flux of life flooding the penury within with a sense of realisation through Bharatanatyam. She also presented a beautiful poem written for her state, Kerala, and later shared about her memories back home.
Kathak guru Renu Sharma enacted a Hindi poem donated by her mother. She also presented Chaturang, a rare composition by the last ruler of Rampur, Nawab Raza Ali Khan, incorporating musicality and percussion in balance in the form of Khayal, Tarana, Sargam and Triwat. The Chaturang posture in yoga maintains a balanced state of the body. Similarly, she hoped for stability and balance for the people of Kerala.
This was followed by Mohiniattam by Sujatha Nair and Upaasana Gopikaa Mohanam and a Mohiniattam group presentation by Jayashree Nair’s Upaasana. This choreography was well-received by the audience and many were happy to see Mohiniattam, the dance form of Kerala, being practised and taught in Mumbai.
Then Gauri Sharma Tripathy and Ankh performed a Kathak and contemporary mix, a presentation which said there is a voice that doesn’t use words, listen to the beats and the goonj and paying tribute through Kathak dance in building the collective rhythm. She also donated an English poem written by her student.
Then came in a lovely Hindi poem and experience sharing session by senior Kathak exponent and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Vidushi Uma Dogra. The next presentation was a Manipuri dance by young children of NCPA Nrityaparichay (introduction to dance), a dance learning platform started by NCPA. This platform currently teaches 400 children across Mumbai and greater Mumbai and has been conceptualised by Dasgupta.
The next presentation was by the students of Odissi exponent Debi Basu who presented a very innovative Leela, the Divine Ecstasy. Next was Bharatanatyam by students of Harikrishna Kalyana Sundaram, son of legendary Kalyana Sundaram Pillai, who was present in the audience. His piece was in lightning speed which was beautifully executed by his students.
The evening ended with a multiple classical styles performance by Dr Uma Rele and her students from Nalanda Nritya Kala Mahavidyalaya who presented Antardaaha, the story of goddess earth is anguished by human atrocities in Kaliyuga. A grand presentation with over 20 dancers filling the Jamshedh Bhabha Auditorium showcased multi-dance forms like Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Mohiniattam.
Samapravaaha was indeed a special event organised by NCPA which proved that at the time of need, the entire dance community and dance lovers can join hands and stand up together to raise funds. Today, I wish to congratulate Mr Suntook and his entire team for this true event with a heart that proved that we are a nation of unity in diversity.
Sandip Soparrkar is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on [email protected]