In Step

February 8, 2011 2:35 pm by

Arekar, Mashruwala and Dogra.

Three of the city’s most renowned Indian classical dancers will come together at the Pt. Durgalal Festival of Dance and Music, which takes place on Wednesday, February 9 at the Nehru Centre. Odissi dancer Daksha Mashruwala, kathak dancer and festival organiser, Uma Dogra and bharatanatyam dancer Vaibhav Arekar will perform both solo and together in “Ekatatava”, a dance production conceptualised, choreographed and performed by the trio that will follow a concert by popular bhajan singer Anup Jalota. We spoke to Mashruwala about the challenges of staging a recital that combines the three distinct dance forms. Edited excerpts:

Is there a theme behind “Ekatatava”?
The three of us have performed together before. We’ve come together with a different concept this time, wherein we’re trying to express this idea of oneness [and] the different kinds of bhakti [devotion]. It begins with how man looked at the super power in the Vedas, where [gods of nature such as] Usha, Surya, Agni are represented through kathak, Odissi, and bharatanatyam respectively. [It moves on to how] man is not convinced and the manifestations of the abstract forms into the icongraphic gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Then comes the concept of bhakti and three solo piece by each of the three dancers.

What are the similarities between the three forms?
There are similarities in the way we take a movement. We try to coordinate our movements so it’s not visual chaos. If I’m doing a movement, the bharatanatyam dancer will be doing a step that has a similarity in its geometry. While Odissi may be full of curves and has no straight lines like bharatanatyam, there’s a similarity in the way we stretch out or the way we bend when we dance. [On the other hand] the rhythmic patterns are so different in the three dances that in some places, there is a  clash. When one of us is dancing, the others can’t [dance at the same time] because it’s against our grammar. For instance, the last item is a Sufi piece, which is much more tuned to kathak, and there is a lot of tatkar (footwork) performed a very high speed. In Odissi, the footwork is never in that speed as there’s a lot of body movement.

Could you tell us a little about the music that will accompany the joint performances?
The percussion instruments used and taal systems (rhythmic cycles) in all three dances is different. The mridangam is used in bharatanatyam, the mardal is used in Odissi, and the tabla is used in kathak. Bharatanatyam follows the Carnatic system, kathak follows the Hindustani system and Odissi has its indigenous system which leans a bit towards the Carnatic and Hindustani styles. The music composer, Manoj Desai is a vocalist, who has been singing for Odissi and kathak dancers but not that much for bharatanatyam. He is very familiar with the first two forms. We sat with him and managed to get some music that blended the three styles.