By C.K. Sanjay Kumar
The quality of any cultural event is determined by the creative content infused into the performance by the performers. When this essential element is incorporated within the traditional framework and rendered religiously, the performance becomes a well-orchestrated ritual exercise. Such an episode was experienced at Ganabharathi auditorium, Kuvempunagar, on 13th September.
Shantala Academy of Music and Dance, founded by Shantala Vattam, a multi-talented artiste from Namma Mysuru, about two decades back, celebrated its annual event aptly titled “The Glimpses of Art forms.” Many music compositions and creative dance choreographies were presented by Shantala and her disciples.
The cultural feast started with a welcome group song, “Shubha Swagatam” composed in Raag Malkouns set to Taalamalika. Then it was Shree Guru Ashtakam, a rare opuscule by Shree Adi Shankaracharya. It was composed in a masterly manner by Shantala in ragamalika, set to Daadra Taal. Then came “Gopalanandana Gokula Baala” which is penned and composed by Muththaiah Bhagavathar in Kadana kutuhala raga and adi taala. Next item was a melodious Meera Bhajan “Ram Ratan Dhan Paayo.” This music section was supported by Vid. Tandavamurthy on violin, Pt. Sriram Bhat on harmonium and Shashanka Vattam on tabla. The music section of the show ended with the composition “Sur Milan”, a very unique piece with novelty. It was composed by Shantala in Hamsadhwani raga with a collage of Karnatak, Hindustani and Western classical styles. Kathak bols with Paran and Kavitha accentuated the soothing composition along with beautiful Jathis and Western notes. Pt. Bhimashankar Bidanur extended a splendid support on tabla along with Tandavamurthy and Sriram Bhat.
Dance section began with Pushpanjali in Bharatanatyam. Crisp but graceful moves of all the five dancers were evident of the hardship involved in dedicated learning. Then it was “Lambodara Lakumikara” composed by Purandara Dasa. Though it was a simple practice song, it is popular and connects common audience quickly. Also it was aptly taught to and presented by the young dancers, Siddhi Alva, Lekhana, Hiran, Kathyayini and Bhagya with their innocence, eagerness and cuteness. Then there was Jatilahari, where they dance for a series of Jatis in a sequence. The taal chosen for this jathilahari was Roopak. The senior dancers Spoorthy, Lakshmi, Ashwini, Shivani and Sachita presented Nritta beautifully. Bharatanatyam presentation concluded with “Shankara Sri Girinatha Prabhu” composed by Swati Tirunal Maharaj in Hamsanandi raga set to Adi taala. This presentation got huge applause from the audience. Background ensemble comprised Shantala Vattam (nattuvanga and vocal), Vid. Tandavamurthy (violin) and Vid. Shivashankara Swamy (mridanga).
Next was a rare art form “Bhaav Bataana” where the artiste dances while singing. Shantala presented Faiyyaz Hashmi’s popular Gazal “Aaj jaane ki zid na karo.” At the same time she also beautifully expressed the intricacies of the feel of the song through Kathak which was a treat. Pt. Bhimashankar Bidanur on tabla and Pt. Sriram Bhat on harmonium extended support to Shantala.
Shantala also performed Kathak for a Javali “Paasa Khelat” sung by Shubha Mudgal. A beautiful narration of adoring fight between Lord Krishna and Radha over a game of Pagade is the subject of this romantic composition. This dance was choreographed by Vidushi Nandini Eshwar. Shantala’s expressive abhinaya with graceful movements captivated rasikas.
Then there was a tabla solo by Shashank Vattam, along with his Guru Bhimashankar Bidanur (Lehra Saath).
The programme ended with Seasons, a ballet choreographed by Shantala. Choosing music from the album “Seasons” by 17th century violinist Antonio Vivaldi, she took up this most challenging task of producing a wonderful ballet with the resulting changes we see in nature — Spring, Summer and Winter.
All the details including costumes, localising the western style ballet, usage of light, music editing as per the ballet requirements were all very well thought of and excellently executed. Kudos to Rohita Eshwar, who designed and controlled lights very appropriately. The programme was blessed by Guru Vidushi Nandini Eshwar by her presence.
Shantala Vattam, a versatile artiste, has expertise in Karnatak and Hindustani Classical Music. She is blessed with a rare voice quality that suits not only Classical but also Ghazal, Bhavageethe, Devotional and Folk music. A qualified Bharatanatyam and Kathak dancer, she is fortunate to be patronised by many stalwarts like Dr. Gangubai Hanagal, Pt. Sripad Hegde and Vidushi Nandini Eshwar.
Nirmala Mathapati, Dy. Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Mysuru, was the chief guest while Dr. C.G. Betsurmath, Executive Secretary, JSS Mahavidyapeetha, was the guest of honour.
Overall, it was a very successful show by Shantala Academy which will be cherished for a long time to come.