Third Evening Of Konark Festival 2023: Exploring The Idea Of Silence And Slowness

Janasammohini, which literally means enchanting the masses is the name of a Pallavi. It had a spell of its own on the third evening of the Konark Festival 2023. Intricate taal patterns and flawless execution of rhythmic tempo made this choreography a very communicative one. After the first couple of disappointing Odissi performances, Rojalin Mahapatra’s Bhubaneswar-based Odissi group Devadasi, ensured  rapturous end.

Amongst all her three choreographic works, the Pallavi stood out to be a good work of pure dance. Her beginning piece was Mangalacharan, an invocation to Goddess Saraswati, a kind of lexicographic representation, which could have gone to another layer of philosophical representation of Vac, Vani, and Vidya if a little effort had been made. Rojalin’s last piece of production was based on the legendary narrative of Lord Jagannath and his two avatars; Rama and Krishna. Somehow, a thread was lacking to stitch the episodes together and to make the production cohesive. As a whole, it was a nice presentation from an upcoming choreographer, who carries immense potential for the future.

Switching over to Sattriya from Odissi, my first thought was that slowness is the real beauty of Indian classical dances. Somehow, we sacrifice this essential beauty of dance at the altar of a fast-moving attitude. At least a few classical Indian dance forms like Kathakali and Satriya have retained that slow-serene-sublime elements in their major choreographies. On the third evening of Konark Festival 2023, Satriya exponent Anwesha Mahanta brought that slow and divine flavour from the Satras of Majuli. Her dance composition is committed to the original tradition of Satras in Assam and beautifully expressed the Vaishnavite philosophy of iconic Assamese saint poet Shrimant Shankara Dev.

The slow-paced Sattriya was nuanced, intricately designed, and blended with deep philosophical thoughts. “Prakriti-Purusha” as Radha and Krishna created that divine aura of “Shringar Bhakti” through dance. Anwesha began her show with the authentic Satra style of Mridanga playing and from there, offered her salutation to Lord Jagannath.

While praising her slowness, I must underline a message of caution for Anwesha. There is always a thin line between beauty and boredom in slow compositions!! An intelligent dancer must know where the beauty ends and from where the boredom begins!!

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