Kathak, Odissi speak each other’s language

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New Delhi: An Odissi dancer executing a complex varnam, the centrepiece of a Bharatanatyam dance recital reflects the contemporary cross currents in classical dance. So also is the interplay of Kathak with Odissi or Bharatanatyam with Kathak.

Three seasoned dancers, Rama Vaidyanathan (Bharatanatyam),Prerana Shrimali (Kathak) and Madhavi Mudgal (Odissi) recently participated in an experiment where they choreographed solo performances for each other, introducing elements of one dance form into another.

The resulting performances are now being showcased in “Parkaya-The body of another,” currently being played out here
in a three-day event that is scheduled to end on January 9.

Rama Vaidyanathan says she conceptualised the idea almost three years ago and Prerana and Madhavi joined her in this
collaboration.

“I wanted to see the varnam being performed by a Kathak dancer or an Odissi dancer and when I approached both of them,
they agreed. They said that they would also like me to do their signature pieces, Thumri and Pallavi”, Rama told PTI in
an interview.

“The challenge is to imbibe and absorb the other form while retaining your own. It must not look like an imitation”, says Prerana.

The Kathak dancer says being habituated to spontaneous performances she finds it challenging to mould her dance into
the strict structure of other two forms.

Prerana has choreographed a Thumri for both Bharatanatyam and Odissi dance recitals to be performed in their own form’s
language.

She says, “Kathak is open- ended and spontaneous whereas the varnam in Bharatanatyam is one of the most complex dance
forms and one has go through each and every step patiently and memorise it by heart.”

Similarly, Rama, a seasoned Bharatnatyam dancer said she had to leave behind the precision of her form and absorb the
lyrical movements of other two forms.

“Bharatnatyam is very precise and geometrical whereas the Pallavi in Odissi is water-like, free and flowing”, Rama says.

The dancers say the coming together of the three Indian classical forms is unique, but cannot be classified as fusion.

“It is more of a poetic amalgamation,” says the Odissi danseuse Madhavi.

“In fusion one can see different patches. It’s more of a collaboration of the highest order, where one dance form express the other one in its own way. Although the challenge lies in the fact that it must not look like an imitation. It should come out effortlessly,” she says.

Despite Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odissi being among the more celebrated dance forms in the country, dancers feel not everybody is educated to differentiate amongst the various forms and their nuances.

“If a recital is executed beautifully and performed aesthetically, people will understand it. The subtleties and details are very transparent and I hope people are able to see the work that has been put in,” says Rama.

She says the collaboration would open several new scopes and possibilities in the dance world.

The event has been organised by Delhi-based Sarvam Foundation.

The dancers say the coming together of the three Indian classical forms is unique, but cannot be classified as fusion.

“It is more of a poetic amalgamation,” says the Odissi danseuse Madhavi.

“In fusion one can see different patches. It’s more of a collaboration of the highest order, where one dance form express the other one in its own way. Although the challenge lies in the fact that it must not look like an imitation. It should come out effortlessly,” she says.

Despite Kathak, Bharatnatyam and Odissi being among the more celebrated dance forms in the country, dancers feel not
everybody is educated to differentiate amongst the various forms and their nuances.

“If a recital is executed beautifully and performed aesthetically, people will understand it. The subtleties and details are very transparent and I hope people are able to see the work that has been put in,” says Rama.

She says the collaboration would open several new scopes and possibilities in the dance world.

The event has been organised by Delhi-based Sarvam Foundation.

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