Day Two of Sydney Dance Festival 2014

Day Two of the Festival commenced with Sydney Kuchipudi dance teacher Aruna Iyengar and her students from the Shakthi School of Indian Dance presenting Anubhandhu, exploring relationships was their central theme, they brought to life important features of Kuchipudi in the portrayal of the pranks of little Krishna in the tharangam (the main piece). dancing crossed feet, with joined toes and on a brass plate.


The festival’s next presented an upcoming male bharathanatyam dancer, Sai Santhosh Radhakrishnan for whom dancing was a passion which he imbibed from accompanying his sister for her dance classes. Soon he started learning dance from stalwarts Deepa Babaprasad, Adyar K Lakshman and Bragha Bessell. Young Sai Santhosh was awarded with Yuva Kala Bharathi in 2012 and more. He presented a challenging piece both a Ragamalika and a thalamalika in Sthuthi Pancha Rathnam, choreographed by Adyar K Lakshman. Followed by Shankara Srigiri (we had witnessed this being danced to in Kuchipudi Style by Prateeksha Kashi).  Sai Santhosh’s cryptic footwork was evident through these pieces. Expression control and its execution excelled in Maameeyam Ashtabadi choreographed by Bragha Bessell. He finished his session with a Thillana and Swadeshanjali, choreographed by Chitra Visveshwaran.

Sai Santhosh talks about how he was taught to enact in both male and female roles through expression.

Vidha Lal and Abhimanyu Lal, are a husband and wife team and more like friends. Students of Guru Smt Geetanjali Lal, both have received various awards and have performed extensively in India and  abroad. Awarded with the 8th Devadasi National Award in 2013, Vidha Lal is acclaimed for her ability to complete 103 Kathak spins in a minute and for breaking the Guinness Book of World Records.

However Vidha Lal and Abhimanyu both told Sydhwaney that there is more to Kathak than just leg work and spins further below.

The couple presented Soorya Sharanam, invoking the Sun God in Suryaashtakam from Ashtapadi. They then moved on to Ninad in a traditional composition set to Raag Gunkali in 7 beats with the sounds of the Damaru for effect. The most exciting piece and well appreciated by the audience was the portrayal of the rains in Varsha Mangal when the dancers in Rag Sur Malhar, drenched the stage with visual and virtual rain drops, the splendour of nature during Monsoon and the coming of life embellished with creative footwork. This universal theme reached out to the audience.

The next piece brought to life in Kathak a long time favourite, Bho Shambho, in Raag Bairagi a composition of Dayanand Saraswati, the dancers took the audience breath away through their choreography, expressions and footwork. Continuing with Ardhanareeswari they worked together with and without, through explorative gestures in Tandav and Lasya to a rare time cycle of 21 beats.

Vidha and Abhimanyu Lal then presented a dramatic piece exploring the famous story of Draupadi Cheer Haran, when Draupadi traumatised in the hands of the Kauravas pleads, prays and cries out to Krishna to protect her. Here is a later excerpt of the composition of Vijaya Shankar Mishra being sung by Abhimanyu and Vidha Lal exploring the story through expression:

The couple ended their session with a fast thillana involving fast paced turns and twists, footwork and attractive coordination.


Sujatha Mohapatra, exponent of Odissi dance style from Eastern India took the audiences to the depths of the sculptures that line the Konark Temple. (more soon to be published)

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