‘INDRADHANUSH’ – festival of Indian classical dances concluded

‘INDRADHANUSH’ – an aptly named festival of Indian classical dances – is a major event held every January. The festival is a brilliant confluence of the seven classical dances of India. The festival coincides with ‘Makara Sankranti’. The weather was mercifully more pleasant during the three days (15 – 17 January 2011) and a large number of art and dance lovers thronged the three day extravaganza hosted at the beautifully decorated ICCR auditorium in the national capital.
Hosted by S.U.N.A.INA (Society for the Upliftment of National Arts of India) in association with ICCR and Ministry of Culture, Indradhanush 2011 took off with the gracious presence of Smt. Rama Dhawan, senior Congress Worker & noted Social Activist; and the very benevolent Shri Suresh K. Goel, Director-General ICCR. Both these distinguished guests were welcomed in a traditional manner by Saradyuti and Chaitanya, the youngest disciples of Guru Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar, Founder-Director S.U.N.A.INA. The first day of the festival saw two inaugural dances by disciples of the renowned Guru. The thematic dance, ‘Indradhanush’ performed with ‘diyas’ by junior disciples of the Guru was an attractive piece, marked with perfect coordination. The dance was set to fusion music. This was followed by ‘Natyanjali’, an intricate piece set to ‘Talamalika’ and ‘Ragamalika’ by the senior-most disciples of the academy. The unflawed synchronization coupled with crisp and graceful movements enthralled all present.
A brief power point presentation was made on the untiring efforts of S.U.N.A.INA, after which the guests of honor had encouraging words for the success of the festival. The annual magazine was released by Shri Suresh K Goel.
Commencing this year, as a token of its gratitude to accomplished exponents for their dedicated service in propagating these traditional art forms, S.U.N.A.INA, has, in a touching gesture, decided to honour luminaries in this field. S.U.N.A.INA has instituted the Guru Samman Award for Excellence in Service to Art and the first such award was conferred upon Dr. Yamini Krishnamurthy, noted Bharatanatyam exponent.
Vijaykumar from Chennai, Odissi dance by N Mohanty & S Mohapatro 
The first day of the festival started with Mohiniattam by Shri P.N. Krishna Kumar who conveyed emotions in perfect ‘lasya abhinaya’. His first piece was ‘Chollukettu’ which means an assembly of verbal syllables; in a specific sequence. ‘Sudha Nritha’ created an air of aesthetic appreciation and the performer maintained a stable mood of joy and contentment. Choreography was by Guru Kalamandalam Kshemavathy. The second item was an expressional piece Krishna Neeyenne Ariyillaa scripted by famous Malayalam poetess Sugathakumari. Krishna Kumar, dressed up as a beautiful Gopi from Vrindavan, portrayed through stunning expressions, the Gopi’s secret admirations, devotions and affection towards Lord Krishna.
This was followed by a commendable Mohiniattam performance by Donaji Portillo from Mexico. She began with ‘Chollukettu’ and concluded with a prayer to Shiva and Swarjathi.  The main rasa of this part of the repertoire is Shringara.
Senior disciples of SUNAINA strike a pose during Thillana 
Next was a Bharatanatyam dance by Shri Vijay Kumar from Chennai, who presented a majestic performance, Bho Shambo. Swami Dayananda Saraswathi’s   ‘Shiva Tandava’ symbolizes the Panchakriya or the five-fold actions of Creation, Sustenance, Destruction, Absorption and Resurrection: Srishti, Sthithi, Samhara, Laya and Tirodhaana.  Vijay Kumar ended with the Thillana, a delightful performance full of rhythmic exuberance.

This was followed by a group Bharatanatyam performance by Nitya Balasubramaniyan, Pavithra Vijayaraghavan, Sakshi Anandam, Shrija Srinivasan, Asha Ranjan, disciples of Guru Jayalakshmi Eshwar (Delhi). They presented ‘Mallari’, a traditional music played with the wind instrument ‘Nagaswaram’ during temple festivals. The performance was marked by crisp footwork and perfect ‘Angashudhi’. This was followed by ‘Deepa Pradakshinam’, an excerpt from the thematic dance production ‘Nadopasana’ based on ‘Divya Nama Sankeertanam’, invoking the lamp as Lord Krishna, with the dancers performing an ‘Abhang’ in praise of Krishna.
The first day concluded with Manipuri dance by Nandanayik Dance Academy of Kolkata. Momita Ganguly, Malabi Chaudhary and Debanjali Biswas gave an impeccable performance.
The second day of the festival was graced by Hon. Mayor of Delhi Shri Prithviraj Sawhney, Smt Ramesh Kumari, noted social worker and Manager, Shiksha Bharati Public School Dwarka and Dr. Kulkarni, Director, Music and Science Channel of Youth. Starting with an informative presentation on the activities of S.U.N.A.INA, Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar gave a short speech on the importance of the festival.
The programme commenced with a Kathak dance by Sulagna Roy, who presented the ‘Shiva Vandana’ set to ‘Teentaal’ and ‘Raag Shankara’. Sulagna then presented a traditional Abhinaya piece by Rabindranath Tagore, to commemorate his 150th birth anniversary.
This was followed by innovative group choreography by Ruchika Singhal. The dancers dressed in ivory crème presented ‘Kathak Stuti’, a prayer which every Kathak dancer renders each day of his life. The second piece was ‘Ghungroo’ a dance piece that praises the beauty of ankle bells, revered by every dancer. The dancers exhibited a charisma and perfect coordination that charmed the audience.
Kuchipudi performance followed Kathak, with artiste Hitaishy Dhanan from Bangalore who performed with gay abandon, with intricate foot patterns and Jatiis displaying clarity and beauty. Her first item was the ‘Nandi Shloka’, a simple invocatory piece. The main centre piece was the ‘Rukmini Pravesam’ showing the love and penance of Rukmini towards Krishna. Hitaishy’s performance ended with the vigorous and energetic ‘Shivashtakam’ in ‘Ragam Mohana’, set to ‘Khandachapu Talam’.
Yamini Saripalli had come all the way from Washington DC to perform at Indradhanush 2011. Her first piece was ‘Paripahi Ganadhipa’- an invocation to Lord Ganesha, the provider of knowledge, prosperity and happiness. This was followed by ‘Palukutenela Talli’.
The second day ended with a mesmerizing Kathakali performance by three very talented young artistes of International Kathakali Centre, Delhi. Rajish Raman Kutty, Savitri Varda and Suparna Sukumar presented Kiratan, a dance drama on the story of how Shiva and Parvathi disguised as a hunter and his wife humbled Arjuna, in a fight for a hunted animal, and showed that Krishna and Shiva are one. Their performance was spellbinding and had the audience in rapt attention. The footwork of Arjuna, the Abhinaya of Parvathi and the involvement of the hunter were all excellent.
All the artistes were aptly felicitated by the guests of honor.
The festival concluded on the third day, 17th January 2011. The concluding day began with an Odissi performance by Dr. Biswajit Dash and Madhulika Mohapatra, the ‘Battu Nritta’, which is a pure dance piece dedicated to the Lord of Dance, Lord Shiva (Nataraja), in his ‘Batuka Bhairava’ form. This was followed by ‘Naba Durga’, with forceful and inspiring ‘Abhinaya’, describing nine different forms of the Goddess Durga.
Next item was a ‘Sattriya’ dance by Meenakshi Medhi. The ‘Sattriya’ is a dance form that is now slowly emerging as a classical dance due to its expressive and ‘nritta’ components. Meenakshi with her extremely expressive eyes and vigorous movements showed the ‘Dashavtara’, and engrossed the audience.
The Guru Samman Award was conferred upon Guru Jitendra Maharaj, Kathak maestro. Guru Jitendra Maharaj delivered a moving speech and engaged the audience by making them clap to his ‘bol’ or syllables.
A short seminar by Guru Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar on “Holistic Benefits of Indian Classical Dances” came next, in which she spoke on her extensive research work on therapeutic values of dances. She stressed on how a disciple of these dance forms becomes confident, creative and imaginative, and gains a fit body and sharp brain.
Dr. Biswajit Dash, a BMS in Panchkarma Ayurveda and Odissi dancer gave a short speech with presentation on the benefits of dance on the body, mind and soul of the performer
This was followed by an innovative Serai Kela Chau presentation by Nora Lamadrid of Mexico, who with the accompaniment of Shehnai, Nagada and Dhol showed a wounded prince and his feelings with graceful movements.
Driving Force behind the show,
Guru Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar
The last piece for the day was a flawlessly coordinated duet by Niladhri Mohanty and Sabitri Mohapatro. They began with the Mangala Charan – Krishna Tandav, based on Lord Krishna. They ended with Namah Shivaya, portraying Lord Shiva with extremely vigorous and attractive Tandav movements specific to their ‘Gharana’.
Guru Jitendra Maharaj and Kathak danseuse Nalini felicitated the artistes of the evening. The festival ended with a vote of thanks by Guru Smt. Kanaka Sudhakar and the national anthem. This festival, an annual event is growing in popularity and is expected to bring forth more and more artistes from across the globe to this platform in the national capital.