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Nritya Natya Kala Bharati’s Annual Dance Recital

July 2004
Nritya Natya Kala Bharati’s Annual Dance Recital

Graceful Kathak, Stunning Colors & Live Music

They ranged from four-year old tots to teenage sensations, trained by the husband-wife duo of Kumud and Sandeep Savla, and showcased their talents in Nritya Natya Kala Bharati's stunning annual recital, before a spellbound audience at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center on May 16.

Competently emceed by Amitabh Sharma, the recital began with the traditional lighting of the lamp by Shiv Aggarwal to the chanting of mantras by Pandit Ved Prakash Joshi, the priest at Shiv Mandir in Global Mall.

In spite of major thunderstorms, pelting rain, and a blackout is some parts of Alpharetta and Roswell, the participants, parents and other guests showed up to pack the auditorium till there was standing room only.

The show was a spectacular bonanza of live music, color and Kathak. " In India we traditionally perform to live music, and not to recorded music, and while it is not easy to get so many musicians together to perform here in the US, we worked very hard and did just that for the first half that showcased Kathak pieces," said Kumud Savla.

The first half comprised wonderful pieces by kids that ranged in age from tiny tots of four to teens. Kumud Savla is considered a teacher-par-excellence mainly because she manages to teach kids as young as four in a way that keeps them interested and able to focus. She makes dancing fun and most of the time the kids learn the intricate steps without realizing it's a lesson in Kathak. Their confidence and competence at such a young age was evident on stage. The show stoppers however were three incredibly choreographed items, the Dashaavtar which showcased the ten reincarnations of Vishnu, the Kathak jugal bandi which is traditionally done between professional adult dancers and their musicians, in which, the dancer performs on stage what the musician plays. Here Kumud Savala combined the talents of two groups, the average age of one group being around ten and the other around 13. They brought the house down with the playfulness, the dialogue between the two groups, the competitiveness of footwork and the ultimate synchronicity that flowed in the final segment. The third highlight of the first segment was the rendition of a vintage qawwali that Kumud used to hear as a child, it being her father's favorite- "Aise besharam ashiq hain yeh aaj ke, inko apna banana ghazab dha gaya" with improvisations in Kathak moves.

The second half showcased the vocal and keyboard talents of a group of beginning students, a very colorful gidda and a folk dance by a group of girls ranging from four to nine years of age. The stage then smoked with fast classical and modern dance moves to foot tapping medley of popular music by a group of boys under 15.

Old is gold was proven by a group of women who are learning Kathak at the academy. The group danced to a medley of golden hits from yesteryears, amidst appreciative cheers from the audience. The final two segments were a vision of color and grace as a talented trio of older students performed fast paced Kathak moves to a fusion of music from the films Aaina and Thakshak.

The grand finale was the theme dance Vriksha ki katha (The story of the tree). Every year the grand finale is a segment where all the participants come together and perform a piece, itself a gigantic task.

Revealing how the theme for the finale came about, Kumud Savla said, while she had two pieces from the epics all ready, she was driving one day when she saw an accident. While observing the scene she thought how sad it was that other than the immediate family of the victim, strangers like her just pass by never knowing what really happened. It then struck her that the only witness to life's many adventures, tragedy and joy is none other than nature. She remembered her days as a child frolicking under the trees and sharing a picnic meal, and how her family worshipped the tree even before cutting it down, and thus was born the grand finale of the recital. The tree was the central character, who spoke of the many rasas of life, the joy of children laughing, listening to stories under its shade, of peacocks dancing before the rains came down, of dacoits robbing passersby as it watched. The theme dance was an explosion of music, song, mime and dance, as it captured life in its many forms.

The entire recital was professionalism at its highest, and people stayed on even when their kids had finished their segments, just to watch and be blown away by creativity at its best.

- Kavita Chhibber


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