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June - July 2004


An Evening of Enchanting Indian Dance Performance: Raka & Group

by Suvesh Puvokayasta

Once again, Chhandam produced a scintillating performance of Indian classical dance under the brand Taranga i.e. Waves. On the dot, the spotlight fell on a charming young lady and she explained in a mellifluous voice the theme of eternal cycle of time and how a selection of Indian ragas have been put together to present a wave of dance sequence titled 'Raga Chakra'. It was mesmerising.

The dance compositions were based on traditional Indian classical dance formations. It ranged from Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi to Kathak, Odissi and Manipuri styles. Each of the pieces was choreographed with originality and the accompaniment of Indian classical music added an extra dimension to thread the sequence of dance-pieces.

It was sheer visual delight in the rhythmic movements of symmetric and asymmetric patterns at different paces by the dancers in colourful costumes. It really created quite a magical atmosphere.

It was difficult to point out which piece was the best. It started with the dawn, passed through the time of the day into the evening and the night that interlaced with seasonal variations and culminated in the beginning of yet another dawn in Bhairavi. The one on the theme of monsoon was a beautiful exposition in Bharat Natyam; the calling of the onset of evening in Khamaj in Odissi and the abhinaya performed by Raka has to be seen for its perfection in poise and movement. A special mention however has to be made about the diya dance for its creating a graceful depiction of the evening. The finale was wonderful - it was a complex composition, combining the different styles but in a seamless manner.

In Raka Mukhopadhya's tutelage, Chhandam has welded a group of young enthusiastic career professionals into a superb team of Indian dancers.

The evening's dance performance was preceded by tabla recitals. Seven students of Raj Kumar Misra, currently a resident teacher of table at the Bharatya Vidya Bhavan, London enthralled the audience with their synchronised 'bol' on tabla. The youngest in the team was no older than six or seven and there was the rarity of listening to two tabla players of fairer sex too. The proud teacher Mr. Misra then performed solo on tabla with energy and assurance, ably supported by Pundit Viswa Prakash on harmonium. The performance was held at Queen's Theatre at Hornchurch, Essex in collaboration with the Bengali Cultural Association, London.

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