Laasya – A Review

 

Ruchi Sanghi School of Indian Dance thrives under the leadership and tutelage of Ruchi Sanghi, its artistic director and teacher.

Ruchi Sanghi was trained in the prestigious Kathak Kendra under the famous Jaipur Gharana guru Shri Rajendra Gangani.  Later she studied under the tutelage of the legendary Kathak dancer and Bollywood choreographer Nritya Natraj ‘Shri Gopi Krishna’ (Mughal-e-Azam, Umrao Jaan, Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje).

The evening was dedicated to Saaya, a voluntary not for profit organisation whose objective is to help those disabled in India. Proceeds raised were to be exclusively dedicated to this cause.

The students of Ruchi Sanghi, commenced the evening with an invocative Ganesh Vandana in a traditional manner.

Jugalbandi followed where the students displayed rhythmic synchronised footwork to match the verbal ‘bols’ of rhythmic expression displayed by another group of students, each alternating. Perhaps this could have been extended to having some of the more senior students complete it with more complex and developed work.

Depicting the season of Monsoon, music Bikram Ghosh, the students depicted the monsoon beauty and excitement, relief from the scorching summer, with lighting playing an exciting role in this piece, the choreography by Vishal Krishna was eye catching.

The next piece, one of my favourites, saw the dancers depicting the emotions of a nayika in a Ghazal, evocative and graceful, the dancers performed to

Tere khusbhoo mein basse khat mein jalaata kaise

Pyaar mein doobe hue khat mein jalaata kaise’

Those letters, can I burn its nostalgic fragrance

Those letters, can I perish those love lorn words.

The ghazal was a welcome relief from the flashing lights beginning to bother close to the stage. Generally, Ghazals rhymic couplet was sung by Jagjit Singh and written by Rajindranath Rahbar.

 

The tarana, created by the illustrious 13th century Sufi poet Amir Khusro in Teen taal followed. The tarana set to Raag Yaman is one of Amir Khusro’s popular Taranas.  Expressing melody, containing the bols or syllables from the sitar or tabla such as “dhar-dhar” or “dhir-dhir”. The full composition of tihais, gats, tukdas was performed by all the students with accuracy.

The next item was an energising attractive dance with a range of folk costumes encompassing the vast cultural landscape of India called Lok Nritya. Each state and region offers a unique glimpse into its way of life, rituals and traditions through its folk dancing. It explored different folk dances – garba from Gujrat and kalbeliya, chirmi and ghoomar from Rajasthan. Dance using sticks, dance of the snake charmers, dancing balancing a pot on the head, and  dancing in veils whilst pirouetting in high speed was ecstatic with abundant use of lighting to make all the movements and costumes appear dreamlike.

The dancers energy continued in the pieces that followed displaying Shuddha Nritta or pure technique in the Benaras style of Kathak. A unique feature of this performance is the ‘Padhant’ or the rhythmic recitation of the syllables by the dancers.

 

The slow and graceful Thaat and Aamad to the fast and ferocious Paran ending with complex footwork section including tihais and a baant. This technical piece was a Teentaal composition originally choreographed by the Kathak maestro of Benares gharana Shri Vishal Krishna.

In a contemporary kathak item, the choreography and costumes were altered slightly but essentially maintaining the Kathak influence in Avataar, music by Subrata Bhattacharya. The evening concluded with more items leaning towards Bollywood numbers and influence to meet popular demand with a befitting finale, a tribute to dancing queen of Bollywood, Madhuri Dixit.