Geet-Rung’s splendid “Journey of Kathak”
(Photos: Lavanya Palaparthy)
Geet-Rung School of Dance and Music presented its second program of the year on Sunday, May 12th at the Gwinnett Performing Arts Center. This 3-hour dance recital was a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital and was attended by over 500 patrons on Mother’s Day afternoon. Their previous music recital in February had been a benefit for nonprofit Ekal Vidyalaya.
Director Divya Srivastava had spent six months in preparations and rehearsals for the dance drama, "Journey of Kathak." This first item of the evening was 50 minutes long and involved over 65 participants, ages 5-35. Five scenes were presented, each introduced by Sangita Sharma. Changing slide backdrops by Lavanya Palaparthy coordinated with the performances on stage.
Kathak, the most popular art form in Northern India, was originally performed in temples to express dedication to Hindu gods. Divya opened with the Ganesh Vandana with the diya in her hands while the youngest class of the play offered flowers in harmony with the music. Young beginner students are not part of the Kathak play, says Divya, as it takes at least a year of classical training for them to prepare mind and body and learn the discipline and grace even to maintain a pose on stage.
Kathak flourished under the patronage of regional princes such as Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Oudh. His guidance and patronage is credited for the growth of this dance form. One of the five scenes presented the court of this Nawab, played by Raza Shah, in which a thumri was danced by Divya.
Kathak slowly evolved into two main gharanas—Jaipur Gharana and Lucknow Gharana. The Lucknow Gharana emphasized expression while the Jaipur Gharana became renowned for highly intricate footwork and fast, sharp, accurate dancing. Divya's play ended with a fusion piece full of Kathak spins. The music was composed by well known artists in India based on the script that she wrote detailing the nuance of each scene.
Kathak's influence on Hindi cinema can be seen in films such as Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeezah, Umrao Jaan, and Devdas, to name a few. This play inspired some of the classes inclined towards Bollywood dances only to learn Kathak as they wished to dance and be a part of such plays in future recitals at Geet-Rung.
After the "Journey of Kathak" came an hour of dances by various groups of students. In praise of Radha and Krishna were "Tum Hi Ho Bandhu," "Nach Le Ve," "Jiya Jiya Re," "Panghat Pe Nache," "Radha Teri Chunari," "Gun Gun Guna Re," "Jogan Jogan," and "Mayya Yashoda." A couple of peppy numbers were also presented by a few classes.
Pankaj Bhargava rendered a classical song "Ka Karoon Sajni" in Rag Bhairavi, followed by a duet "Kajra Mohabbat Wala" by Pankaj and Swapana Kumthekar (Hindustani vocal teacher at Geet-Rung) danced by Aekta Patel, Savitha Anand, Shweta Shetty, and Tania Srivastava. The program ended with the finale "Disco Deewane" that brought all the students on the stage, followed by Divya’s vote of thanks.
Student of the Year medals were awarded to Shree Delwadia, Khyati Sehgal, and Rani Patel for highest scores earned in the Kathak exams. Divya acknowledged dance teachers at Geet-Rung, Savitha Anand and Aekta Patel, and the evening's emcees, Aqsa Farroqui and Sunny Sachdeva. Trophies were awarded to all students and gifts to sponsors and volunteers. Thanks included light and sound control by Navin Tyagi, and backstage management by Nida Shariff and Kritika Subramaniam.
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