I write with great pride and joy of tomorrow’s Odissi recital by Shreya Sabharwal and Mitali Varadkar, two young but highly talented danseuses. They will be performing at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival tomorrow evening.
Odissi is inarguably one of India’s most exquisite dance forms. Immortalised in the temples of Konarak, in the art and execution of the finest gurus, it’s lyrical quality and grace is what drew me to take up this art form as a hobby. I’m still an ardent dancer but haven’t managed to continue my learning of Odissi beyond my college days.
So, whenever there’s a chance to catch a recital, I try to go for it and whet my appetite for this beauteous dance form. More so when a dear friend and a GHP member is at the helm of it!
Mitali and Shreya have trained under Guru Shubahda Varadkar, the recipient of various prestigious awards like the senior fellowship by the ministry of culture and Mahari Award. She is an empanelled artiste of The Indian Council for Cultural Relations has enthralled the audience with her artistic excellence through a range of creative productions.
Mitali began her journey as a dancer representing the Odissi dance form, time and again, with her Guru at various prestigious festivals. Various accolades have come her way, making her the lead dancer and assistant for all major productions by her Guru. Like Mitali, Shreya has been initiated to dance from an early age. She was meticulously trained in Kathak by the visionary guru, Bireshwar Gautam. As a Kathak dancer, she performed widely with him and as a solo artiste and received several awards. The sad demise of her mentor did not deter the dancer’s spirit in Shreya, who then pursued the artistic path further by training in Odissi under Shubhada Varadkar.
For anyone with any knowledge of Indian classical dance, this is no mean feat. For the straight-backed, angular hand-gestures that the whirling dance form of Kathak is, Odissi constitutes fluidic body bends as bhangas, involves softer movements and gestures. It takes a very perceptive, sensitive and passionate artiste to traverse these forms, and then to master them. While Shreya is still young and would shy away from the claim of mastery, her dance remains proof of her being an artiste of no minor standing. And with Mitali, she forms a perfect Odissi duo, who are steadily taking many a local and international stage by storm.
In Namamee, Mitali and Shreya begin with Shiv Panchakshar, a Shiv Stuti based on Adi Sankaracharya’s famous Shivpanchakshar stotram. The Panchakshara literally means “five letters” referring to the five holy letters Na, Ma, Si, Va, Ya associated with Shiva’s mantra “Om Namah Shivaya”. In this stotram, each syllable of the holy chant represents the majestic beauty of the Deity of Dance.
The Shiv Panchakshar will be followed by a “Pallavi”, a pure dance piece that introduces and unfolds the beauty of Odissi. The movements of a Pallavi are lyrical and graceful, elaborating the raga it is based on with equal importance to rhythm and music. The one Mitali and Shreya will perform to is based on Raga Janasamohini.
Music for both pieces – choreographed by Shubhada Varadkar – have been composed by Vijay Tambe.
I’m already all eager to see this promising danseuses weave their magic tomorrow. Make sure you’re at Cross Maidan well in time to grab the best seats!
Odissi recital “Namamee” by Mitali Varadkar and Shreya Sabharwal
Date and time: Tuesday February 7th, 5.15 pm to 6.05 pm
Venue: Cross Maidan (seating is free and on a first-come-first-seated basis)