Guest Column

Fourth Evening Of Konark Festival 2023: Panorama Of Grace & Elegance In Mohiniattam

By
Kedar Mishra

They spontaneously swing like branches of coconut trees with the touch of gentle breeze. Their storytelling ability is not limited to their body movements alone, but mostly it is nuanced. Mohiniattam is all about the graceful swing of the body, the mind and the soul. Pallavi Krishnan, renowned Mohiniattam exponent with her group from Kerala arrived on stage with grace, elegance and beauty. Fourth evening of the Konark Festival began with a beautiful invocation to lord Shiva in Shiva Panchakshara Stortra. Instead of making a literal statement of the Stotra, Pallavi chooses to portray the nuanced theoretical aspects and philosophy of Shivatattwa.

Pallavi’s second presentation was a dance drama based on legendary Malayalam poet Kumaran Asan’s poetry “Karuna”, the compassion. Basabadatta, the enchanting courtesan’s troubled journey from being a luxury-power drunken woman to the path of renunciation is portrayed by Pallavi and her troupe like a panorama of grace and elegance. The episodic narrative of “Karuna” was not enacted but made it to be flown. It was grace in its highest perfection. The eyes of Basabadatta tell hundreds of stories in one moment. Her transition from being the beauty of mundane to the grace of enlightenment is brilliantly presented as a descriptive choreography.

Usually there is a striking difference between a story told as it is and a story written as poetry. Mahakavi Kumaran Asan in his poetry captured the terrible storm circled around Basabadatta’s soul which has again faithfully transformed as a piece of dance by the choreographer.

The group presentation by Pallavi Krishnan deserves best of the words in appreciation. This was one of the most poignant pieces of dance drama to be remembered for a long time.

Following Mohiniattam, Daksha Mashruwal’s Kaishiki Dance Academy group of Odissi dancers from Mumbai entered the Konark stage with “Ragamala” as core theme and from there moved to a pure dance set in Raag Yog. It was Yog Pallavi which was well presented bringing together all elements of pure dance. “Pranamitanire , aji mu ki laje budili”- a poetic composition by medieval Odia poet Banamali Das was chosen as Abhinaya and it had its old school charm of Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra’s style. Kaishiki group concluded their presentation through a Moksha composition.

Kedar Mishra

Writer, Journalist & Critic

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