Preview: Hyderabad's Lasyakalpa Foundation hosts the 5th edition of dance festival, Panchamam
Bringing together seven dancers from across the country, Hyderabad-based Lasyakalpa Foundation is hosting its fifth annual dance festival, Panchamam (fifth or the Prakriti Swara). Started by founder and dancer Katyayani Ganti in 2013, the three-day celebration of Indian dance forms has certainly set a benchmark in the city’s Classical dance circuit. Being organised in association with the Department of Language and Culture, Government of Telangana, this year, the festival is themed around prakriti — femininity — and thus, will feature seven solo performances by dancers covering four different dance forms — bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Mohiniyattam. “Ever since its inception six years ago, our aim has been to showcase classical arts in Hyderabad, and also bring renowned dancers on one stage. The format of the festival changes every year, and that gives us more liberty to choose different themes and have new artistes each time. This time, it’s based on the primal creative (impulse),” says Katyayani, Kuchipudi dancer and curator of Panchamam.
Ahead of the festival, we spoke to Rama Vaidhyanathan, one of the performers at the event, about her approach to bharatanatyam and choreography.
With a performance career spanning across 30 years, Delhi-based Rama Vaidyanathan has trained intensively under legendary dancers Yamini Krishnamurthy and celebrated Guru Saroja Vaidyanathan. Shuttling between Delhi and Chennai, where she performs during the Margazhi season, Rama has received critical acclaim and various awards and titles including that of Kalaimamani by the Government of Tamil Nadu and Vani Kala Sudhakara from Tyagabrahma Gana Sabha Chennai. She is also the director of dance school Ganesa Natyalaya in New Delhi, where she has been teaching for more than 25 years.
Excerpts from interview:
What can we expect from your upcoming performance at Panchamam?
Since the festival is called Panchamam, I’m opening with a Mallari — Panchaka Mallari, based on five raagas. That will be followed by Swathi Tirunal’s iconic Ashta Ragamalika Keerthanam Pannagendra Sayana and will end with Swasam — a composition on the connection of the breath with dance.
What is your creative process of choreographing like? Give us a sneak peek into your rehearsals.
As a practitioner of a traditional art form, I feel it’s my responsibility to make my production relevant to the present times without forsaking its core principles, at the same time, exploring the versatility of bharatanatyam. When planning a performance, music is of prime importance for me. I think literature needs to be interpreted correctly, and most importantly, I must have conviction in what I am presenting. It’s only then can the audience be on the same page as me. So, rehearsals are very sacred to me. The process, the adrenalin rush that flows when I get an idea and the joy of translating that into movements is what excites me the most about dance. My musicians often call me ‘Rewind Rama’ because I keep repeating steps and the whole production till we get it perfectly.
How difficult is it to maintain the boundary between the traditional and the experimental?
It’s difficult, but not impossible. There is an inherent policing that we need to deploy and it comes with practice and experience. No one can teach us that. But I try and talk about the importance of this with my students. As a mentor, it’s my responsibility to leave the right legacy behind.
Other artistes at the festival:
1. Monami Nandy
Trained in Odissi folk dances and Mayurbhanj Chhau
2. Methil Devika
Practitioner of Mohiniyattam from Guru Kalamandalam Leelamma
3. Bijayini Satpathy
Odissi danseuse, who is a part of the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble
4. Kamala Reddy
Kuchipudi danseuse and founder of Kala Niketan Academy of Indian classical dance in Pittsburgh
5. Katayayani Ganti
Kuchipudi dancer and Associate Director of Lasyakalpa
6. Uma Sathya Narayanan
Disciple of Chitra Visweswaran in bharatanatyam
December 14 to 16, 6 pm. At Ravindra Bharathi.