This year has been perhaps the busiest year as far as the arts go. And the rustic
setting of Shilparamam is definitely the best venue to round it all off, with
yet another crafts' festival.
The year, in many ways, marks an observance of a continuing tradition and an acknowledgement of the evolving post-modern era. And you find coming together here, a gamut of ethnic crafts, folk and classical painting traditions and sculptures from different parts of the country, and varied performing arts, for the eternal pleasure of the masses and to break the monotony of a scheduled life.
The first evening of the festival itself saw a sizeable audience parking its 2- and 4-wheelers adjacent to the Shilparamam premises, and rushing in a for a colorful, visual treat of performances, ethnic crafts and textiles, for a great buy and, to top it all, for a feast of spicy Indian snack!
Crafts and Textiles - Variety is…
Interestingly, the crafts and textile stalls had artisans and master weavers themselves introducing and selling their products. This fest demands that the viewer pay more than two visits to get the complete feel of the carnival. Artists ranging from the Madhubani women painters and those from Nirmal to the Kalahasti wood carvers and the Kalamkari workers, as also a host of artisans from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, have on display their varied works of Patachitra paintings on palm leaves, metal castings, sequined, embroidered garments and more.
Dancing Away to Glory
After the formal inauguration function by the Tamil Nadu Governor, Fatima Bi, at 7:30 in the evening, there was a dance recital of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi and Kathak. Though the audience delightfully watched Alekhya and Mangala, clad in bright costumes and adorned with shimmering ornaments, perform in their usual grace, there was this strange feeling that was palpable only to the connoisseurs.
Alekhya, an eminent Kuchipudi dancer, rendered her 'Abhinaya' to soft Hindustani music, a ghazal (melodiously rendered by Devi Ramana Murthy), depicting a heroine in love and waiting for her lover boy. The Kathak dancer Mangala performed to a Telugu Javali, backed by forceful orchestral support.
Both the dancers claimed that this was an experiment through which they wanted to bring the common, underlying 'Abhinaya' (expressions) or 'Bhava' (emotions) in these two classical dance styles. Well, that did not seem like a fusion or an 'experiment' - it seemed like an 'exchange'!
However, the latter dance recital by world-renowned Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer, Navtej Singh Johar, was a soothing experience. The dancer, clad in a loose, white cotton robe and pajamas, entered with his hands upward and moving in ecstasy to the music of 'Qawwali' (the group from Hyderabad lead by Iqbal Hussain). The artist attempted to seek the spiritual aspects of Sufi music and Bharatanatyam.
Navtej's swaying made him look every bit the shaman that he was portraying, while his lower torso used minimal Bharatanatyam Adavus, or foot steps that flawlessly blended with the whole concept of spirituality in dance (unlike the earlier dance pieces where the dancers' efforts were confined to exchanging music!).
The start was promising, and there is a lot to be explored here over the next fifteen days.