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Monday, November 11, 2019

Kathak Performance of Lalita - Review by Santhoshi Chander

Review of my kathak performance for North Indian Music Festival at Riverside Parramatta Theatres, Sydney. Review by Santhoshi Chander.

Excerpt from the review:

Kathak, Wikipedia tells us, is one of ten major Indian classical dance forms. It originated in the travelling Kathakars or storytellers of ancient India. The Vedic term “Katha” means “story, conversation or traditional tale”. These bards communicated the early myths of India through dance, song and music, much like Greek theatre. 
This set the stage for the appearance of one of the senior artistes, Dr. Lalitha Venkatraman, who gave us deeper schooling in the Kathak art-form. She began with a sumptuous Thumri treat! Bejewelled with the hallmarks of Thumri, dramatic gestures and mild eroticism, Lalita gave breath to the countless hues of shringar, merged seamlessly to the melodic richness of Raag Varnaroopini, musically underlining the evocative love poetry.

Through Lalita’s expert dramatic portrayal of a spectrum of intense emotions, we experienced the joys and pains a woman longing for her beloved experiences, from sprightly to ruminative.

The immersive quality of Lalita’s performance was such that the compere for the evening made it a point to note that although Lalita appeared tired and in pain at the end of this item, it was not so! Indeed, her tiredness was a part of her story telling. She was showing how a Gopika lost in love becomes so unaware of physical reality, absorbed in her longing thoughts to a point of crashing into objects and hurting herself. 

So real was Lalita’s portrayal of Thumri, that at the conclusion we were left struggling to separate dreams from reality!

Not one to take it easy, Lalita returned to take the stage by storm with an energetic “Tarana”, a whirlwind of pure dance where the dancer’s virtuosity to bring out the essence of the melody and rhythm through complex footwork, intricate geometric shapes, and rapid turns, is tested.
In this challenging technical piece set in Raag Kalavati composed by Kathak Maestro Birju Maharaj, Lalita brought out the essence of the Kathak style, through her fluidity and grace of movement. She became a Kathak Kadinsky, a dancing visual artist, painting geometric patterns and shapes across the stage.

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