The harvest season Makara Sankranti saw a fresh bloom of artistes congregating to showcase their talent at the INDRADHANUSH DILLI festival hosted by SUNAINA – Society for the Upliftment of National Arts of India at the ICCR Auditorium on Saturday, 14th January 2012. 

This festival which made a humble beginning in 2008 has grown from strength to strength and was a grand success as Delhiites were thronged the venue in large numbers despite the chilly weather. Indradhanush has become an annual feature on the cultural calendar of New Delhi. Brainchild of Guru Smt Kanaka Sudhakar, the festival started as usual with a seminar on the theme “ Indian Classical Dance – for Health and Spiritual Awakening. The speakers were Tripura Kashyap – a renowned dance practitioner and therapist on the mentally retarded children. In her address, she said that dance is movement; and movement symbolizes life. She talked about the benefits dance had especially on mentally retarded children through coordinated movements and close proximity with one another; and results in emotional bonding between them.

The next speaker was Guru Smt Kanaka Sudhakar – the founder President of SUNAINA – also a research worker on Dance Therapy. She talked about how a Classical Dancer goes into spiritual meditation while performing the different items. She described the ‘Rasa’ theory and went on to demonstrate this very effectively with the Bhajan “Jo Tum Todo Piya”. The Guru then described the health benefits of dance – a topic on which on which she has performed extensive research. She demonstrated Yogic Aerobics, a new concept that conceived by her especially for the middle aged. Yogic aerobics was demonstrated by five ladies who are learning and benefiting from this new concept of the Guru. 

Bharatanatyam Group
The dance festival was inaugurated by Director General ICCR Shri Suresh Goel who was welcomed in a very traditional way with two young students performing the Aarti and applying “Tilak” on his forehead, while traditional music played in the background. The GURU SAMMAN AWARD was conferred on Pandit Rajender Gangani who has trained innumerable students in Kathak and is himself an exponent in the art.

The first dance to be showcased was with folk flavour – the famous KALBELIA performed by youth artistes of Aakar Group of Delhi. The item provided a vibrant and pulsating start to the festival as the energetic dance held the audience spellbound. This was followed by the Kuchipudi recital of PRATEEKSHA KASHI, a Bangalore based artiste. The young danseuse started her recital with “Pahi Pahi” a famous Keertanam from Krishna Leela Tarangini. The item depicted beautiful scenes from the life and events of Lord Krishna. The dancer showed special expertise dancing on a brass plate with complicated “Jati” patterns. Her next item was on Durga “Mahishasura Mardhini” an item in which Prateeksha’s expressive eyes endeared her to the audience.

The next dancer was Navia Natarajan who performed Bharatanatyam to the famous Sanskrit Keerthanam of Swati Tirunal: ‘Pannegendra Shayana Sri Padmanabha’. This piece portrays the ‘Nayika’ deeply in love with Lord Padmanabha. Navia’s hold over Abhinaya was evident in her presentation. “Even the gentle breeze makes me feel exhausted, the sweet calls of the cuckoos and the parrots sound dreadful to me please discard your anger towards me at once – I have no other refuge”.

The third dancer of the day was Mohiniattam Artiste Deepa Chakravarty, disciple of Gopika Verma. She started with the Ashtapadi Lalita Lavanga in Raag Hindolam Taalam Adi; a composition of Sri Jayadeva, choreographed by Guru Smt Gopika Varma. The Vrindavan, the mysterious world regarded to be untouched by the worldly materialistic illusions and selfish desires were demonstrated by her through her dance. She concluded her recital with Thillana – composed by T N Shesagopal in Husseni Raagam, set to Tisra Jati Adi Thalam. Unlike the very slow tempo of Mohiniattam, one could see the expert use of her feet with movements to suit the forceful Thillana.

The day of South Indian Classical Dances ended with vigorous and forceful performance of Pavitra Bhat and his disciples from Mumbai. They first performed the Varnam, Mahatripurasundari, a piece dedicated to the incarnation of Goddess Shakti. In this Varnam, Goddess Shakti is praised as Maha Kali, Amba, Meenakshi – in Raag Shivaranjani, Taal – Aadi. The choreography was mesmerizing.

Pavitra then performed a solo, ‘Kalinga Narthana’ a composition of Othukadu Venkata Subbier, which showed the majestic ‘Taandavam’ performed by Lord Krishna to explain victory of truth over evil. It started with a Shlokam in praise of Lord Krishna, explaining the beauty of Vrindavan. The strength of the performance and the crispness of Pavitra’s Nritta were indeed very laudable.

The second day of INDRADHANUSH DILLI 2012 was a clear Sunday which saw art lovers flock to the ICCR auditorium. It started with the vigorous and energetic TALA VADHYA NRITYA LAHARI, conceived and choreographed by Guru Kanaka Sudhakar along with live accompaniment of percussion instruments Tabla , Pakhawaj , Ghatam, Ganjira, Dhol and Mridangam. The dancers who performed in perfect harmony and perfect sync with the instruments were Aparajita Sarma , Renuka Iyer, Rashmi Mohan, Sree Lakshmi, Vipanchi Rao and Parvathi Ramesh. This innovative concept was highly appreciated by Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan and the august audience who were blessed to witness this splendid performance. GURU SAMMAN AWARD was conferred on Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan by SUNAINA.

Next was the fascinating Sword Dance and skilful Stick Dance of Manipuri which had the audience on the edge of their seats throughout. This was followed by the Kathak performance of Tanvi Palav from Mumbai. She performed Krishna Vandana and other dances. Her presentation was graceful yet energetic.

The Odissi duet performance of Kaustavi Sarkar and Subikash Mukherjee was a treat to watch and reminded one of the Divine couple of Krishna and Radha. They paid obeisance to Lord Jagannatha through a rhythmic exposition called Jugmadwanda Pallavi followed by an Abhinaya, an expressional dance.

The programme concluded with a Kathak performance of Sangita Chatterjee who weaved permutations and combinations with the rhythmic bol of the Tabla . 

Guru Samman Award to Dr. Sonal Mansingh
Despite the concluding day being a Monday, Indradhanush attracted a good number of art and culture lovers crowd. The closing ceremony was presented by Sapna Anil Attavar and Arathy Nair, senior Dwarka based disciples of the Guru, who performed the Thillana in Dhanashree Raag, as Radha and Krishna. This was followed by the scintillating Bhangra of Punjab and Kuchipudi recital by Sreelakshmi Govardhanan from Kerala. The performance was witnessed by the Guests of Honor, Shri Tripurari Sharan Director General, Lady Shruti Rana of Shruti Foundation and Guru Sonal Mansingh. GURU SAMMAN AWARD was conferred upon Guru Sonal Mansingh. Sreelaksihmi performed a Tarangam in which she showed the Poothana Vadham very effectively, captivating the audience. Next was another interesting performance by Probhal Gupta who donned the Stree Vesham of Kathakali and mesmerized the audience with his remarkable presentation of the Sambhoga Shringaram when the demons Nakratundi tries to seduce Jayant the son of Indra.

The next to follow was another male dancer Soumya Bose who performed Odissi. The Mahishasuramardhini and Thayee-Konark Kantee, a pure dance based on rhythmic variations illustrating sculpturesque poses from the ancient temples of Orissa. This item also had the audience truly mesmerized.

The festival concluded with the breathtaking Pung Cholom and Dhol Cholom in which the dancers Premjit and group gyrated energetically to drum beats. This festival organized by SUNAINA came as a breath of fresh air to Delhiites; and was a much sought after platform for youth professional artistes.