The sensuous ‘Lavni’ casts its magic in distance Israel

Pune: For connoisseurs of folk arts, the “Lavni” dance of Maharashtra is a treat with a national audience always eager to have a glimpse of the sensuous performances presented by female artistes clad in nine yard saree.

This traditional art form has now for the first time, cast its magic in the distant Israel evoking a heartening response.

On an invitation from the Maharashtrian Mandal in Israel, a 14-member Lavni troupe from the city under the banner of “Nakharel Naari” visited that country and staged four performances in the last week of August, according to Varun Kamble who conducted the group.

“It was for the first time this folk art performance was presented in theatres of Israel with regular booking of tickets. While the Maharashtrians settlers poured in large numbers, almost 25 per cent spectators for the shows comprised curious Israelis”, he said on his return to the city.

The troupe that consisted of six female dancers and equal number of traditional instrumentalists mixed the core Lavni performance with a sprinkling of peasant dance to please the Israeli audience as the country has a distinct agricultural ethos, Kamble added.

“The Israeli audience asked us various questions about origin of the Lavni folk dance and its evolution and spread from rural to urban regions “, Kamble who is also one of the founders of the famous “Choufula” group of Lavni dancers that started giving performances in cities of the state, recounted.

“When we went to Israel, we came to know that the country has about 75,000 Marathi settlers keen to preserve their traditions and culture. The response to the dance staged in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem was tremendous with a full house cheering the artistes throughout the shows,” he said.

Two renowned Lavni artistes Kirit Deshmukh and Sarika Nagarkar were part of the group accompanied by among others folk musicians Venkatesh Garud, Nagesh Ghosekar and Amol Belsare.

Although the art of Lavni is being revived to a great extent, the artistes of the older generation were facing lots of hardships for want of sustenance as the genre was looked down upon in the past with an attached social stigma, Kamble said, urging the Maharashtra government to render financial assistance to the folk dance artistes of present and the past.

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