Sunday, June 16, 2024

Jharna: A platform for creative, young dancers

Shambavi Jagadeesh

Shambavi Jagadeesh
| Photo Credit: Courtesy: Satyajit Dhananjayan

A large number of dancers from different parts of the world aspire to perform in Chennai, but there are not enough platforms. In this scenario, a dance festival for promising youngsters is more than welcome.

‘Jharna’, curated by Bharata Kalanjali, encourages dancers to strike a balance between upholding traditional values and pushing the boundaries. The line up is decided after a selection process. The dancers have to submit their ideas or concepts and the best ones make it to the stage. This year out of 88 applications 12 were chosen and asked to create new works.

Spread over six days with two performances on each day, the 2023 edition of ‘Jharna’ was held recently at Bharata Kalanjali auditorium in the Spastic Society Campus, Chennai.

Among the performers was Shambavi Jagadeesh, who, inspired by saint-poet Akka Mahadevi, had choreographed a piece around a conversation between Ganesha and Parvati. Apart from portraying Ganesha’s playfulness, he is shown as being upset over his friends body shaming him. Parvati motivates him to understand his strengths and come to terms with his physical features. There were parallel references in the narrative to Akka Mahadevi’s life.

Shambavi is a dancer with an impressive stage presence and an ability to express and communicate her ideas with competence. Though the performance began on a vibrant note, her penchant for speed often marred the impact. It is important for a dancer to take time to establish the characters well before elaborating on the idea and story.

That said, Shambavi’s depiction of Akka Mahadevi’s conversations with Chenna Mallikarjuna and her expressions of love for him, were captiviting. The thillana made a joyous finale.

Shobhit Ramesh

Shobhit Ramesh
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Satyajit Dhananjayan

Shobhit Ramesh

The Adi tala, Behag jatiswaram composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman was the opening piece of Shobhit Ramesh’s performance. The melodic passages and swara patterns came through in the seamless flow of his movements.

Shobhit explored Sufism in a Thana varnam (raag Jog) that had verses by Amir Khusro, Bulleh Shah and Kabir. A devotee’s quest for peace and happiness was expressed well by the dancer. However, the jathi interludes sometimes were overstretched. The circular motion with outstretched hands like the Whirling Dervishes was an interesting inclusion that went well with the theme. Shobit could have used this opportunity to explore this movement in greater detail, which would have lent an innovative touch to the theermanams.

The poem ‘Raah bataye’, where the moonlight guides souls lost in darkness into a meditative mode before reaching the final state of surrender, was danced with sensitivity and intensity.

It was heartening to see young dancers make the effort to create their own work. Despite the flaws, these ideas can evolve over a period of time into f

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