IRVINE, CA – In the serendipitous spirit of the guru-shishya parampara, a Kathak extrava-ganza at the Irvine Barclay Theater on Aug.23 featured the legendary Pandit Birju Maharaj dancing with two of his senior disciples, both renowned artists and teachers in their own right, Saswati Sen and Abhay Shankar Mishra.
The evening’s show, was one of elegance and rapture, featuring a compilation of dance, music and story-telling with live orchestra. Pandit Birju Maharaj the unparalleled master of the Lucknow Gharana has an expanded expertise in music, composition, choreography, percussion, teaching and poetry. This passion and talent has seen the creation of his unique style and popularized Kathak around the world.
When he took the stage, he connected with the audience instantly. “These performances in Los Angeles are just an excuse, an excuse to meet the people in this busy life,” he said smiling.
He started his performance with a salutation to Lord Krishna and said that every chhavi of Lord Krishna is a thaat or new beginning in its own way and make for beautiful glimpses of the almighty. Explaining the not so commonly used five beat taal, he elegantly contemporized it and pointed out that rhythm and music are present in every turn and corner of our lives. As a delightful example, he interpreted kids skating on the road and birds feeding their young ones into taal form!
His presentation was very interactive and kept the fans engaged. Birju Maharaj went on to perform the famous tabla-ghungroo jugalbandi for an applauding audience. The ghungroo-tabla relationship can be interpreted as that of a man and woman and Birju Maharaj masterfully depicted the dynamic between the genders through taal and dance.
Saswati Sen is the foremost disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj and stands tall amongst her contemporaries. She went onto perform Dhamar and Ahalya Udhar from the Ramayana. Mishra showed his dexterity in the dance form while performing the Shiv Vandana and the Hanuman Ashtak. The grand finale of the evening, where the trio performedtogether, brought the sold out house on its feet.
Paul Livingstone (Sitar), Rupesh Kotecha (Santoor), Ravindra Deo, Pankaj Mishra (Sarangi), Utpal Ghoshal (Tabla), Anirban Bhattacharyya (Vocal) along with with Arti Manek who sang the tukdas comprised the live orchestra and added greatly to the show.
The emcees of the evening were Sona Patel and Meera Manek.