Sunday, December 17, 2006

Images From Bengalooru Habba

In keeping with the spirit of Suvarna Karnataka, this year’s Habba celebrations brought home some regional dance forms like Yakshagana, Sommana Kunita and Veera Bhadra Kunita.There were classical dance performances from other parts of India also. In effect, this event was the melting pot of a myriad dance forms.

Twice National Award winner, actress, Bharatanatyam teacher, dancer-turned-choreographer, thinker, budding writer, (not to forget the show-stopping looks), multi-dimensional Shobana charmed the Bangalore crowd in her latest performance on 4th Dec’06. Those who had come prepared for an evening of pure Bharatanatyam by Shobana and her troupe had a delightful surprise when the occasion turned out to be a feast of classical dance and fusion dance.

'Art is like wine' and an artist's performance tends to improve with time. Indian classical dance is based on spirituality and communication, in which expertise comes only with age. Shobana, a gifted Bharatanatyam dancer cum actress, was born into a family of dancers committed to arts. She started learning dance at the age of three and trained under Bharatanatyam exponents, Chitra Visweswaran and Padma Subramaniam. This niece of famous Tranvancore Sisters (Lalitha, Padmini, Ragini), with her vibrant performance and stage presence attracts and holds the attention of the audience. One needs to experience this by attending live concerts and that’s exactly what Shobana and her troupe proved thorough their rendition.

The first phase of her dance performance was devoted to pure Bharatanatyam movements and techniques. She is often equaled to the curvaceous beauty of South Indian sculptures and her fine execution proved this without doubt. She had the grace and freshness as the proverbial flower.
Picture 310

Then there was a fusion version of the Bharatanatyam by her troupe, which was extra-ordinary. This was not her best again but the fusion music to which the troupe danced had more depth in it.Perfect choreography,that’s what you get when it is masterminded by Shobana herself. What reverberated in me when I saw this was the meaning of I exist therefore I am. True indeed.
Picture 313

Shobana is the only Indian artiste to have performed live with Michael Jackson in the Berlin festival. She has traveled far and wide as a cultural ambassador of India across the globe. I still remember from my school days a video that she did with Big B for the song Kabhi Kabhie. That day she and her troupe danced to the tunes of “Vande Mataram”, a completely new form blended with movements from Bharatanatyam. It was all about a sense of aesthetics, about communication and synchronization. Even the prostrations of the dancers positioned on the diagonal, bathed in yellow light, created powerful imagery.
Picture 329

Then 7th Dec’06, I was there for the Odissi dance performance by Bijayini Satpathy from Nrityagram, Bangalore. Trying to capture the exuberance of this Odissi virtuoso is as futile as recreating a passing rainbow. The impact of youthful vigor, exacting footwork, sinuous grace, disciplined body sculpting and flair for expression, exploited every moment, however ordinary, to create visual beauty of the highest aesthetic order. Odissi dance is more about grace and depiction of history and temple sculptures by basic body positions. A typical stance is where the dancer shows three bends and creates an illusion of sculpture coming to life.
Picture 341

Another splendid stance is the feminine curvaceous sculptural position with the body weight on one foot.
Picture 332

Bijayini performed a part of the epic tale,"Ramayan" portraying all the six characters (Ram, Laxman, Ravana, Sita, Hanuman and Jaatayu) in a 20-minute non-stop story telling format. Another powerful presentation was the portrayal of Goddess Durga, where rigor and aggression painted the bloody fierce manifestation and her slaying the buffalo-demon.

Both these dance performances ran full house, wowing the knowledgeable audience into a standing ovation at the end.

On 9th Dec, I was in the Bangalore Palace grounds for the musical performances by the local bands, the central attraction being the show by drummer Sivamani.The open-air music performance began under the blazing afternoon sun around 4 P.M. There were hundreds of plastic chairs all in neat rows, which were practically empty when TAAQ (Thermal And A Quarter) performed and slowly the crowd started pouring in. Then there was Raghu Dixit Project , which was a definite crowd favorite with the rocking version of Mysore se Aayi that really got everyone on his or her feet. His lyrics in Hindi, Kannada and English hitting right with ethnic folk, sufi and classical phrases, though intense yet simple,spoke about every common man’s emotions and experiences.

The unsung hero of the show was Anirban Chakravarthy who was adjudged the best guitarist at the 2005 edition of the Great Indian Rock.
Picture 362

Then were some impressive performances by Yantra,Amit Heri and Ministry of Blues, all talented bands but they required a totally different ambience and the crowd’s mood didn’t gel with the performers tempo and pace. The last event of the day was the much-awaited act of magic on drums by noted percussionist Sivamani. He paid his homage to Annavru (the late Rajkumar), and requested the crowd to observe a minute’s silence before he began his musical magic.
Picture 376

The response to the open-air performance, which was lukewarm during its entire course suddenly picked up some momentum and this energy level, continued for about an hour. There was a jugalbandi between Sivamani and the Kutti Brothers. Finally the bandana clad Sivamani concluded his performance by playing the fast-paced song from Yuva titled "Fannah."
Picture 383

More pics of the events here.

The Bangalore Habba put down the curtains for this year on Dec 10th 2006 and as is usual to do a post-mortem in the event of a cultural event, the organisers of Bangalore Habba had their own share. They were accused of not providing adequate funding to promote traditional local arts and the allotment of money for various local artists centric activities.Moreover, was the Habba,the true representative of the culture ? Was it a clash of egos? Of cultures? Questions like these will be have a wide spectrum of answers and varied opinion.These are questions that remain hanging in the air. Like whether the critics can come up with an alternate festival to prove their point. Or just to query that when governments are unable to financially support art, is it wrong for private funding to step in?

Lets wait and watch what is there in store for the coming year.

Keep reading and remain connected.

Cross posted at Desicritics.

(Attended all these concerts after work and so I am learning to balance between work and non-work related activities,hehehe effective time management.)


At 7:09 PM, Blogger The Aimless Vagrant said...

Missed the Habba this time. Would have been the first time and irrespective of whatever controversies you have alluded to at the end, I think it is great that such cultural events are held in a big way in Bangalore and promoted well.

Was surprised at your grasp of the subtle nuances of classical dance :)

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Rekha said...

Your pic(No. 329) is the most colourful pic I have seen till date :)


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