Kathak dance group Leelangika staged their new production ‘Abhivyakti – a palette of Rasas’, directed and conceptualised by Indian classical danseuse Jhumpa Chakraborty, at the Oman Hall of the College of Banking and Financial Studies recently
Bathed in mystical hues of soft lighting and donning traditional attire that complemented not just theatrical mastery but also the essence of a culturally vibrant era, a group of young Indian classical dancers last week presented ‘Abhivyakti – a palette of Rasas (emotions)’ to a full-house audience.
It was Kathak dance group Leelangika’s biennial concert staged at the Oman Hall of the College of Banking and Financial Studies. The last concert had been staged in 2018 after which it had to be kept on hold since the pandemic had set in and a host of restrictions where in place.
“All of us wanted to celebrate being alive…,” said Jhumpa Chakraborty, the founder of Leelangika, who directed and conceptualised this new concept to convey a host of emotions through this Indian classical ballet. It also gave an opportunity to her students to showcase their talent to a an invited multi-cultural audience in Oman.
“Abhivyakti means expression. We human beings emote different kinds of expressions throughout our life which has been categorised in Bharata’s Natyasashtra as ‘Navaras’ – nine expressions or emotions. Everyone expresses these varied emotions, but in Abhivyakti, these rasas were expressed through Kathak dance via different mythological stories,” Jhumpa explained.
The evening began with the traditional lighting of a lamp by Prema Nagesh, founder director of Vyaniti Yoga Studio, who was the chief guest. The Kathak recital started with a Guru Vandana by Jhumpa dedicated as a tribute to her dance gurus – Late Pt Birju Maharaj and Late Munna Lal Shukla. After this, students of Leelangika presented ‘tukras, parans, tihais and kavittas in Teental, Ektal and Pancham Sawari’ while Jhumpa herself performed ‘Gat Nikas’. A vision of Kathak in the Mughal court was then presented through ‘Darbar-e-Kathak’, a spellbinding choreography by Jhumpa.
The ballet ‘Abhivyakti….a palette of Rasas’ comprised the presentation of nine types of emotions through dance, including Raudra – anger, Karuna – pathos, Adbhuta – wonder, Hasya – humour, Bhayanaka – terror, Bhibatsa – disgust, Veera – valour, Shantha – peace, and Shringara – beauty. Directed by their Guru Jhumpa, the students of Leelangika expressed each of the rasas beautifully through different mythological stories, leaving the audience spellbound.
The group of dancers were Arya, Vishwa, Aaheli, Ahana, Priyanjana, Anya Anoop, Kanyana, Rihanna, Bhavya, Suhana, Pehel, Diya, Juana, Jahnabi, Anoushka, Dishita, Bhoomi, Reina, Rupsa, Anya Sharma, Maheeka, Vyatiba, Aviva, Aditi, Shaivi, Manvi, Shrabosti, Zanam, Mahua, Dona, Subhasree, Dilna, Vandana, Anu, Sunita and Jhumpa.
The narration for the ballet was by Rahul Kar while professional lighting effects were provided by Tapas Chakraborty who accorded a unique silver lining to the performances with his brilliant stage lighting.
Asked about the relevance and prospects of Kathak in coming years, Jhumpa said, “Kathak dancers are called Kathakars….storytellers. They say, ‘Katha kahe, so kathak’, which means Kathak dance is a beautiful medium to narrate any kind of story, be it mythological or one with a modern connotation, to reach out to people at large. It is very versatile and can be adapted to bring out the essence of any song, music or poetry. Hence, it is an excellent medium to reach out to the world and that is what I have been endeavouring to do.”
She pointed out that people who don’t know much about Kathak feel skeptical about it, but once they get to learn more about it, they fall in love with this vibrant classical dance form of India. Currently, more and more children – girls and boys – need to learn the dance techniques of Kathak and enjoy its deep history, she said, indicating that this is the only way to keep it alive for generations to come.