An Enjoyable Odissi and Bharatanatyam Performance - Vaikom - A Report
Contributor- Shubha Nagarajan
February 22, 2015- As artistes,we always dream of showcasing our art in front of many people. The bigger the audience,the more viewership,the better we feel.It gives us the impression that the entire crowd applauded and appreciated us.A houseful auditorium means we have a responsibility to be perfect,to do our best,and that somehow dancing in front of a large number of people means more merit to us.
That should make us feel great,right?
Well, not always. Sometimes a small group is better. Recently,I,along with my co-dancers Abhaya and Siddharatha was invited by the lovely dancer Paris Laxmi to perform Odissi at her School,Kalashakti Mandapam in Vaikom,Kerala. As this was the first time Odissi was ever being performed in VaiKom,we were excited and we put together a good mix of items,and combinations of solo,duets and trios.
Paris Laxmi, created a neat little stage, with thatched roof and simple seating arrangements reminded us of the olden days in the village where all night dramas,dances and harikathas were held.
As evening approached,and we got ready, slowly people started trickling in.About 60-70 people had gathered. We started the show with a puja to light the lamp on stage.
We began with a Shiva Stuti,then an Ashtapadi,followed by a pure item duet.Abhaya continued with an Odiya solo item. The high energy Ahir Bhairav pallavi was the highlight.We concluded with Moksha,and a prayer for universal peace.
I found some things very interesting.The 60 or so people who had come to watch us were an eclectic mix of dance students, French, American, and a few others.
Maybe it was the enthusiasm and curiosity of the audience who came from far and near to watch us,the sincerity of the organisers Laxmi and Sunil,the atmosphere created by the dimly lit oil lamps and the rustic auditorium,that all 3 or us felt this strong fire within us and we danced for 1 hour 45 minutes with a strangely high spirit and energy. Despite the sultry and hot weather,we did not feel tired,nor did we realise the time flying.We danced with joy and flow of happiness .
Laxmi and Sunil were very happy,and so were the audience. Each and every person came up and appreciated our performance.They were curious about the Odissi style. A few hoped to learn it some day, others had keenly observed the unique features of this dance and discussed it with us.The foreign tourists were so enamoured by the stamping of the feet for rhythm,and of course our costumes. We were very satisfied with our performance. Afterwards Laxmi treated the us and her relatives to an impromptu Bharatnatyam recital.
In the olden days,private concerts or baithaks used to be held. A lot more energy is exchanged between the performer and the audience when its a small closed setting .The performer connects with the people in front of him/her.
Performing in front of a few but informed audience, was in fact very nice experience, as I enjoyed watching dance and music programs and realised how the physical and non physical elements come together to give that energy and spirit to a performer. It is these unusual places and people who give us such opportunities to perform that become more memorable and what we cherish for a long time.
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