City dancer makes it to ‘Rongoprobesh’

Bangladesh sees dance recital with live music for the first time.

Bangalore, March 13, 2018: Bharatanatyam dancer Kirti Ramgopal along with young dancers from Bangladesh participated in the Bangladesh Dance Festival, ‘Rongoprobesh’. The event was held in Dhaka as part of a cultural exchange programme between the two countries and attended by the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

‘Rongoprobesh’ 2018, is a dance festival organised by ‘Shadhona’, a cultural organisation based in Bangladesh. The two-day dance festival was held after a gap of three years and solely focused on Bharatanatyam.

Kirti Ramgopal says, “We had seven young dancers between the ages of 11 and 13 who took part in the dance festival. The festival was important because it was the first time that the dancers and the audience at Bangladesh were exposed to live Carnatic music, because the last time the festival happened in 2015, musicians from Calcutta were supposed to take part but plans fell through and they could not make it.”

“It was also the first time that Aarthi Ahmed, a Bharatanatyam dancer from Bangladesh had returned to the country after training in Calcutta for five years, and she performed ‘Varnam’, which is considered the most difficult Bharatanatyam dance recital because of its intricacies”, she added.

Ramgopal was accompanied by Carnatic vocalist, Nandakumar Unnikrishnan, percussionist Janardhan Rao and flutist, Karthik Sathavalli.

Lubna Marium, the Artistic Director of Shadhona and Principal at Kalpatoru says, “Since its inception on August 30, 2008, the dance school, Kolpotoru has come a long way. Presently ‘Kolpotoru’ conducts dance classes in Dhaka, at its main branch in Banani and at the Aga Khan Center in Basundhara Residential Area.   Dance classes are also conducted in the port city of Chittagong, under the aegis of ‘Fulki’.  Furthermore, Kolpotoru conducts Manipuri Dance and ‘Pung’ classes in Ghoramara Village of Komolganj for the Manipuri Community, as part of the ‘Dhrumel’ project with Manipuri Theatre.

Kolpotoru is also the Registered Examination Center of the West Bengal Dance Group Federation (WBDGF), and has been conducting Dance Exams since 2013.”

Talking about the programme, Marium said, “On the first day of the festival a solo Bharatanatyam ‘Margam’ was presented by upcoming dancer Arthy Ahmed, who has just returned from India after completing five years of dance training.  The next day the students of Kolpotoru presented group and duet Bharatanatyam items.  They were accompanied by live music by four eminent visiting artistes from Bangalore, led, on the Natuvangam by dancer and choreographer Kirti Ramgopal who designed the entire Festival and trained all the dancers.”

Bangalore based musician, Nandakumar Unnikrishnan, presented an exquisite rendition of Mahaganapathim and Bho Shambho.

Unnikrishnan, who was visiting the country for the first time, said, “I think this was a wonderful platform for cultural exchange between the two countries, because the audience in Bangladesh has never been exposed to Carnatic music in its true sense, as a result of these concerts we are expecting an increase in the number of Bangladeshi students who are eager to learn music and take it up as a profession.”

Ramgopal further says that various artists have approached the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh to allow students in the country for an exchange programme. “If this works out we can hope to have more of these dance festivals and make the art form reach a wider audience”, she said.

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Russian play ‘Swan Lake’ to be adapted in the City

Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore to witness ‘Hansika,’ Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s adaption of ‘Swan Lake’

Bangalore, March 20, 2018: ‘Hansika’ an Odissi dance performance based on Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Russian play, ‘Swan Lake’ will be performed by renowned Odissi dancer, Sharmilla Mukherjee at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram.

Sharmilla Mukherjee, a master of the art form said, “Foreign plays have often been adapted in Indian theatres, but classical dance has generally revolved around traditional stories. This is one of the first attempts at introducing western themes in classical dance”.

Mukherjee will be performing this play with 19 other dancers based out of Bangalore.

Abhaya Laxmi, one of her accompanists said, “We have been working on this performance since last year, it is a dance ballet that includes all the nuances of the classical dance like raga, laya and rasa. Some parts of the music have been taken from Tchaikovsky’s original play but we have heavily Indianised most parts of the play.”

Suranjana, another dancer accompanying Sharmilla in this performance, said that the same play was also performed by a Mohiniattam dancer but they used  Tchaikovsky’s music in its entirety. “We on the other hand have modified the play to make it more suitable for the Indian audience,”  she added.

Talking about foreign adaptations in classical dance, Suranjana added that Birju Maharaj had also once presented a Kathak ensemble on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Odissi, which is a classical dance form of Odisha has now become quite popular in Bangalore, said Sharmilla Mukherjee who also runs a dance school in the city.