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When mudras talk on stage

Shweta Mohite. Pic courtesy/Shalini Jain
Shweta Mohite. Pic courtesy/Shalini Jain

The Mudra Dance Festival at NCPA is, inarguably, one of the biggest Indian Classical dance extravaganzas in town. Like every year, the upcoming edition boasts of an impressive line-up of artistes, including Usha RK, Dakshina Vaidyanathan, Rama Vaidyanathan, Sanjukta Wagh and her group Beej, Jhelum Paranjape and her troupe Smitalay, Vaibhav Arekar and his group Sankhya, and Gauri Sharma Tripathi and Ankh.

Shweta Mohite, 16, who is part of Paranjape’s Smitalay, is looking forward to her second big stage performance. “I performed for the first time on Guru Purnima. I was eight years old. In the beginning, I found Odissi steps a little difficult, but practice helped me get better,” says the young dancer.

Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy. Pic courtesy/Shalini Jain
Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy. Pic courtesy/Shalini Jain

So, how did she get introduced to Odissi? “There was a wing of Smitalay in my school. When I was in standard three, I saw Jhelum ma’am teaching her students. Since I liked the Odissi style, I requested my dad to get me enrolled for the classes,” says Mohite.

Her first big recital took place last year. “I performed at the Tata Theatre, NCPA, on World Dance Day,” says the teenager, who is also fond of Folk dance. “I want to become a perfect dancer like my gurus Rupali Kadam and Jhelum ma’am.”

On: April 20 to 23, 7 pm onwards
At: NCPA, Nariman Point.
Log on to: bookmyshow.com
Cost: Rs 200 onwards

What to expect

  • The four-day classical dance festival will open with Patra Vivartana, depicting three characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and their transformation. Dakshina Vaidyanathan will perform in a lesser-known interpretation of the Ramayana as Soorpanakha.
  • Day two will see a Bharatnatyam recital by Rama Vaidyanathan. Her act, Vivartana, will showcase Lord Shiva’s Tandav Nritya.
  • The Nrityagram ensemble will present Bhuya (transformation of dance as it moves from one step to another, depicting the flow of dance) on the third day.
  • The last day will see four artistes showcasing the rich cultural diversity of Classical Indian dance forms.

Festival Icons

Surupa Sen (Odissi)
For over two decades, Sen has worked with Bijayini Satpathy to research and expand the vocabulary of Odissi dance. Sen has performed in solo and duet recitals and ensembles across India and the world.

Bijayini Satpathy (Odissi) 
Satpathy’s research on the moving body has resulted in a scientific body-training programme that is sourced from yoga, Natyashastra, Kalaripayattu and western fitness methods.

Gauri Sharma Tripathi (Kathak)
Gauri learnt Kathak from her guru and mother Padma Sharma, and her first steps in the dance form were taught by Guru Lacchu Maharaj. Gauri has also studied Folk dance styles in India, incorporating other dance influences within her classical framework.

Jhelum Paranjape (Odissi)
Paranjape performed in the dance ballets staged by the Rashtra Seva Dal Kalapathak under the tutelage of Shri Ramesh Purav for several years. She decided to pursue Odissi in 1977.

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