Dancer Monisa Nayak talks about improvisation in Kathak
Classical art forms struggle to find their niche among a contemporary audience while maintaining their purity. Kathak exponent Monisa Nayak has clear-cut ideas on what elements to touch upon while improvising the dance for the modern stage. “Many people experiment with the costume and even the style of dancing. But, I prefer to look into various musical styles and how to interpret the songs through Kathak,” says Monisa, who experimented with Rabindra Sangeet on the 150th birth anniversary of the Bengali Nobel Laureate.
This approach to the art is perfectly justified by her long acquaintance with the ancient dance form since she turned seven. Having explored the various Gharanas (schools) within Kathak, the artiste follows the dynamic and footwork-oriented Jaipur style. We catch up with the Delhi-based choreographer prior to her show in the city to know more about her approach to the stage.
Kathak, like many other classical performance arts, was limited mostly to male performers belonging to certain lineages. “In a revival towards the end of the previous century, Kathak has become more inclusive of women performers,” explains the danseuse, who has travelled to venues like the Geneva festival and Milapfest with her repertoire.
In an attempt to remind youngsters in India about their roots, this Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar winner has also joined hands with organisations like Spic Macay through seminars and demonstrations. “Even many gurus are not ready to let the masses learn this classical art. So, I hope to bring a liberal nature to the dance form by being more inclusive,” says the artiste, who founded a dance school called Khanak in New Delhi, which recently opened a new branch at Thiruvananthapuram.
Monisa will be accompanied by her entourage— Malvika Sharma, Priyanka Kumari, Aishwarya Shrivastava, Mahima Gupta—for the event at JTPAC. The two-hour long presentation is split into two sections with the opening segment named Diwas tracing the energy states of the day. “This showcase also resembles a recital of Khatak in which the energy increases to a peak and then calms down, just as the day closes with a romantic evening,” says Monisa. The following Ritu Rekha captures the essence of the changing seasons, to be concluded by a short presentation called Charishnu.
On July 8 at 7 pm