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“NAARI”- A Dance Tribute to Womanhood

July 2006
“NAARI”- A Dance Tribute to Womanhood

It had all the makings of a spectacular evening: bright lights, packed audience, skillfully choreographed dances, glitzy costumes, flashy make-up, bated breaths and backstage excitement. The performers twirled with exquisite grace to pakhawaj beats and swayed with equal finesse to the jhatkas and matkas of popular Bollywood numbers. Donned in their colorful costumes and radiant smiles, they swung to the tunes of "Nach Baliye," "Ek Main aur Ek Tu Hain," and "Kajra Re" for an electrifying experience.

On the eve of Mother's Day, the Annual Recital Program of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti at Earthlink Live was a fitting tribute to the countless "Super Moms" who spend every waking hour, doing what they do best, loving and caring for their little ones. Choreographed and organized by the husband-and-wife-team extraordinaire, Sandeep and Kumud Savla, the theme of the recital was "Naari" and it was a heartwarming salute to women and womanhood.

The young performers were no less than"Rock Stars." They had the crowds screaming, applauding, and wanting even more! One would immediately imagine Kareena Kapoor, Salman Khan, Esha Deol, Shahid Kapur, Mallika Sherawat, John Abraham and Zayed Khan on stage. But the innumerable gifted students of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti including Kareena Udeshi, Pushan Paul, Megha Sequeira, Sil Savla, Vishakha Sardar, Sanket Shah, Sharon Ravikumar, Sweny Kanya, Shivom Patel, Chini Sheth, Radha Yerramilli, Divya Srivastava, Ashna Bhardwaj, Antra Das, Shivani Seth, Rashmi Gupta, and Nupur Gupta, were each, undoubtedly, a Rock Star in his or her own right!

The evening kicked off with a "Journey through the history of Kathak." The artists with their flawless performances took the audience back in time to show how kathak had evolved from its humble beginnings to a popular art form. From the temples of Northern India where kathakars performed stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, to the courts of Mogul emperors where nayikas performed for pure entertainment; from the times when kathak was used to depict Krishna Leela, to the times when it was used to illustrate Chandramukhi's agony in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas and finally to the modern day contemporary kathak, which fuses elements of Indian and Western dance and music, it was an enthralling journey, to say the least.

The audience was left equally dazzled by the exhilarating performance of stalwarts like Kumud Savla, Priya Chokshi, Sarika Gupta, Vaishali Rawtoo, Nisha Patel, Abhiruchi Agarwal and Samta Savla to the creatively-choreographed piece of Katrina as they were by the perky depiction of Saiyanjee Baiyaan Chuda ke Nahin Jana by beginners Roshni Shah, Henna Mian, Niki Lokhande, Sakshi Kakkad, Pooja Sharma and Richa Sharma.

The second half of the show was a graphic representation of the "pride and pain," "trials and tribulations," and "dreams and aspirations," of a woman?. as a baby, a daughter, a sister, an adolescent, a lover, a bride, a mother and a courtesan! The Savlas masterfully used Bollywood numbers and deftly-choreographed pieces to address thorny issues such as female infanticide, dowry deaths, female exploitation and even the centuries-old practice of sati. While a little disturbing for the weak-hearted, the dance pieces portrayed the entire gamut of atrocities that women have suffered, and continue to even today, to emerge right at the top! From the beatific to the buoyant, roguish and playful to the sensuous, and tear-jerking to the awe-inspiring, the artistic rendering of the various pieces took the audience on a journey into the very soul of a woman.

Through their versatile performances to numbers such as Mere Ghar Aayee Ek Nanhi Pari, Main Albeli; Bichua Jawaani ka, Maar Udaari, O Kugiye, Maar Udaari; Aadhi Raat Jab Chaand Dhale, Piya Aiso Jiya Mein Samaay Gayo Re, and Tumhari Adaaon Pe Main Vari Vari, the students of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti sought to tell the story of girl coming of age. A girl's journey is completed when she rises above her limitations to confront those who seek to destroy her. The culmination of a woman's journey was authoritatively rendered by Kumud Savla, as Durga, the embodiment of Shakti herself.

The Annual Recitals of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti have been recognized for their poignant messages that touch the heart! Last year the performances revolved around the theme "Paani," based on the havoc caused by the Tsunami. This year the theme was tied to the occasion of Mother's Day and sought to celebrate not just mothers but all women, including the students of Nritya Natya Kala Bharti themselves.

As the evening drew to an end and the earlier excitement gave way to a sense of accomplishment at a job well done, an excerpt from The Wanderer by Kahlil Gibran resounded true.

The dancer came near and bowed her body again and said," Gracious majesty,

I know not the answer to your questions. Only this I know:

The soul of the philosopher lies wake in their head.

The soul of the poet soars in their heart.

The soul of the singer vibrates in their throat,

but the soul of the dancer abides in all of their body. "

~ Deepa Agarwal


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