Kathak Odyssey: an innovative program

web4CHICAGO: Anila Sinha Foundation (ASF) recently organized a gala fund raising event themed Kathak Odyssey, at the Ashyana Banquette in Downers Grove, a south west suburb of Chicago. The event was attended by about 300 avid classical Indian dance art lovers and guests, many non-Indian.
ASF presented a unique choreography based on the journey of Kathak from its inception in Hindu period to the current era. The emcees for this program were Anju Lal and Sejal Shah. The program started with a composition from the film “Ram Rajya” showing two sons of Lord Rama, Luv and Kush who were considered first Kathakars, performed by Sarin and Anika. This was followed by “Hari Darshan”, a mythological item reciting ancient scriptures with hand gestures and facial expressions by Kamal Gupta, Asha Oroskar, Sarina Dhaon, Vandana Jhingan and Deepa Devasena.
The following dances, “Murli Manohar” by Gurmeet Marhas and Medha Bhargaw and “Rah Mei Bichhi hai Palke” by Laxmi Sarthi and Shivali Varshney had romantic flavor. At this time this art form shifted to the royal courts to provide source of entertainment.
Subsequently a unique dance was presented on the composition of Sufi saints Good Conscious Man, was presented by Nabeela Sherwani, Gurmeet Marhas and Medha Bhargaw. The next dance performed by Alekya Eyunni was based on an institution known as the ‘Tawaif’ in the courts of the rich and aristocrats. The music was from movie “Umrao Jan”.
The presentation after this were dances based on Bollywood songs in outstanding movies, “Buzdil” by Asha Oroskar and “Kohinoor” by Kamal Gupta and Medha Bhargaw. The next performances were based on songs from “Dil to Pagal Hai” by Deepa Devsena and “Devdas” by Gurmeet Marhas, both choreographed by Kathak Guru Pandit Birju Maharaj. The program ended with a “Tarana” by all the artists on a very famous music composition of Pandit Ravi Shankar.
The dance presentation was followed by a formal dinner during which time a live auction was carried out by Sejal Shah. The program turned out to be unique and successful as a fundraising event. This will help ASF continue to fulfill its mission.
The next dance and music program by ASF will be held on October 6. The activities of ASF are supported in part by Illinois Arts Council and the sponsors of the event.
After a brief reception, the evening started with the introduction of the Anila Sinha Foundation (ASF) with its mission and objectives.
Anila Sinha Foundation, a not for profit organization was established in 1998 in memory of Mrs. Anila Sinha who was a Kathak dancer herself and an ardent promoter of North Indian classical dance mainly Kathak with its associated music and stagecraft. Since its inception ASF has presented a number of programs of Indian classical music and dance of Kathak style.

Ramesh Soparawala
India Post News Service

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