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Krishna ballet in Kathak and tribute to Bollywood divas

By Mahadev Desai
May 2014
Krishna ballet in Kathak and tribute to Bollywood divas

(Photos: Venkat Kuttua)

Nritya Natya Kala Bharti (NNKB) presented its 13th annual dance recital at the Ferst Center for the Arts, Atlanta, on Sunday, March 23, 2014. This year’s recital was in two captivating segments. The first one Krishna, a ballet in Kathak, presented a few episodes from the life of Lord Krishna while the second segment regaled the audience with vintage Bollywood songs and dances associated with some of Bollywood’s leading divas. The spectacular program was emceed by Samta Savla, Vasanta Chivukula, and Brittny Chandra.

The Kathak segment innovatively and imaginatively presented fourteen Krishna Katha episodes, including Nand Utsav (celebrations of birth of Lord Krishna); pranks of young Krishna, especially makhan chori (stealing butter); childhood days as a cowherd; Kaliya daman (Krishna tames serpent Kaliya); Govardhana Leela (Krishna lifts Govardhana Hill like an umbrella to protect the Vrindavan residents from a storm); and the pièce de resistance, Maha Raas. Performers depicted these fascinating episodes through fast-paced captivating dances replete with Kathak artistry, in colorful costumes. Execution was flawless, with precision footwork and jingling ghunghroos, spins, and varying formations performed to live singing. In makhan chori, Kumud Savla as Yashoda brought the audience’s motherly emotions to life. It culminated with baby Krishna on top of the pyramid of dancers breaking the handi (cute little prop suspended from the top). Young cowherd Krishna, dancing to a popular song, “Choti Choti Gaiya Chote Chote Gwal,” had the audience clapping and tapping their feet. Kaliya daman, where Samta as Krishna subdued the poisonous Kaliya serpent, and the following episode where Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill (a very imaginative prop) elicited huge applause. The finale in this segment was the breathtakingly exuberant Maha Raas dance, the Dance of Divine Love where Krishna plays flute and assumes multiple forms to perform raas with Radha and the gopis. The performers formed pairs and danced with dandiyas to the intricate rhythms —a visual treat for the audience which gave a booming applause.

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Kumud Savla with Visharad graduates. (Photo: Venkat Kuttua)

For these dances, NNKB’s talented music students played music set by Sandeep Savla. Sandeep and Kumud Savla’s academy has a dance and music certification program affiliated with Ghandharva Mahavidyalaya of Pune, and has recognized its first batch of ten Visharad graduates.

The second segment highlighted sparkling dances by over a dozen famed Bollywood divas. The segment began and ended with classics. The opening medley had Bollywood’s iconic ‘showman’ Raj Kapoor under an umbrella singing the peppy song “Pyaar hua ikrar hua,” along with Nargis. “Pyaar kiya to darna kya” and Pakeezah’s poignant mujra Chalte chalte” captivated the audience. After the medley, the backdrop showed slides of Bollywood divas as the NNKB students danced to a few lines of songs brought to life by the divas.

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The Savlas, (left to right) Sil, Sandeep, Kumud, and Samta, with the performers. (Photo: Venkat Kuttua)

Students successfully captured the cheerfulness and exuberance of the Indian culture through the kaleidoscope of hit Bollywood dances. They danced with heart and showed subtle nuances, needed to reflect the gamut of moods, with grace and finesse.

The entire show was flawlessly executed in a breathtaking riot of color, artistry, and music that pushed artistic boundaries. With each annual show, NNKB raises the bar and gains in popularity and acclaim.



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