Another weekend, another arts festival. We spent the last two evenings as Kalaa Utsavam 2011, an annual celebration of the performing arts of the Indian subcontinent at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. I gushed about the performances that we attended on Twitter; here are a few additional thoughts:
Chandalika by Mythili Prakash. Bharatnatyam will always have a special place in my heart; it’s the style in which I received my initial dance training. On Friday night, Mythili Prakash, daughter of Viji Prakash and an accomplished and visionary dancer in her own right, presented “Chandralika,” an evocative, contemporary Bharatnatyam ballet. Prakash used the vocabulary of Bharatnatyam—a combination of movements and positions involving the feet, limbs, and body, along with hand gestures and facial expressions—to brilliantly interpret Rabindranath Tagore’s 1933 dance drama. What can I say that won’t make me sound like a fangirl? It was awesome. The incredible physicality of her choreography was striking for its grace.
Dhrupad: The Dagar Legacy by Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar with Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar. Dhrupad is an ancient, but not widely popular, vocal genre of Hindustani (North Indian) classical music. Thankfully, my musically-minded parents introduced me to all sorts of music when I was a child, including this restrained, meditative, devotional tradition.* Ustad Hussain Sayeeduddin Dagar is a legend and it was a privilege to hear his, and his sons’, Nafeesuddin and Aneesuddin Dagar, soulful and melodious voices. Truly, the entire performance brought me to tears. And everyone else in the Esplanade’s Recital Studio—a intimate, fan-shaped room for 250—seemed to agree with me. At the conclusion of the show, we all leapt out of our seats for an extra-long standing ovation.
* The penultimate tandava sung last night, “Shiva Shiva Shiva” in Raag Adana in Sultaal (listen to the Gundecha Brothers’ rendition here), is a favorite of my mother’s. We listened to it almost every morning while getting ready for school.
(Additional credits: Photographs via Kalaa Utsavam 2011.)