LA MIRADA, CA - Shivam Arts School of Kathak presented a dance spectacle which filled the La Mirada Performing Arts Theatre with the rhythmic sound of ‘ghungaroos’, swirling colorful skirts, lithe bodies in motion and the rich sounds of traditional Indian instruments. Though Kathak dominated the evening,
The piece de resistance of the evening– Shiv Vivah – a dance drama, received a thunderous applause from the audience and had a cast of 30 dancers. Based on the epic Sanskrit poem Kumarasambhava, written by India’s great poet Kalidasa, as the name suggests , it was a grand celebration of the celestial wedding of Shiva and Parvati. Punam Kumar wrote the script after research and studying Kumarsambhav and had original music scored from India and choreographed the ballet. From costume designing to sets and backdrops across the stage it was a massive piece of creative work.
The ballet had four scenes, tracing the events which led to the wedding. It was an amalgam of different dance forms though Kathak dominated. The key characters – Shiva , performed by Hannah Latif and Parvati , Sonal Kumar Turakhia, Punam Kumar’s daughter, were the live wires of the colorful performance. The ballet brought to life varied emotions depicted in the different scenes, which allowed the dancers to put on display a range of artistic expressions. The element of tragedy in the earlier scenes was off set with the color and vibrancy of a huge Indian wedding as the bride and groom finally exchanged garlands amidst the blowing of the conch. The ballet presented an opportunity for dancers of varying artistic skills and styles to be part of a grand epic.
The original music was composed by Priyadarshan Pathak and the sets, which lend much support to the look and feel of the production, were designed by Shirish Dayal.
Some of the highlights among the other performers were Seasons, a rhythmic dance piece that captured the beauty of pure Kathak in depicting the seasons – spring, summer and monsoon.
Laasya - Tandava, highlighted the feminine and masculine energies and was a study in contrasts well presented by the dancers.
Moving on to the contemporary performances was a kathak performed to the Sufi music from Bollywood. With dancers dressed in the traditional kathak costumes in vivid, brilliant colors, this item was a visual treat and a crowd pleaser. Two dances were performed to AR Rahman’s popular Bollywood songs , ‘Khawaja Mere Khwaja’ and ‘Kun Faya Kun.’ Later, dancers also recreated two classic Bollywood love songs ‘Piya Toh Se Naina Laage Re’ and ‘Jagave Saari Raina.’
Parents in the audience, specially enjoyed Shastriya Kathak put up by two groups, beginners and intermediate, demonstrating the intricate footwork and movements of pure kathak. The beginners group, with the youngest dancer aged around 5 years, endeared themselves to the audience. In ‘Leaving Home,’ the dancers moved to a composition of the rock band Indian Ocean, interpreting the nuances of the music into Kathak movements. The dancers expressed being conflicted by mixed emotions, leaving home to explore the world against the constant longing of returning to one’s roots.
The grand finale was a high energy fusion performance – Jugalbandi with Flamenco. Flamenco artist Clarita Corona and Kathak dancers Sonal Kumar Turakhia, Ayushee Aithal, Hannah Latif and Asmita Jadhav displayed well honed artistic skills which led to a playful competition between the Indian and Latin dance styles. It was an apt way of ending a well organized and coordinated show.
Emcee for the evening Varsha Patel kept the audience well informed with detailed descriptions of each performance.
The musicians- Ramesh Kumar on the tabla; Aloke Dasgupta on sitar; Neal Kumar, Vocal and Harmonium; Bikas Babu on the flute; played with passion and helped make each performance unique.