BY MAHADEV DESAI
Photos by Venkat Kuttua
(Click on photos for larger view.)
Atlanta, GA: Nritya Natya Kala Bharti (NNKB), Atlanta’s premier Indian dance and music academy presented its 13th annual dance recital at the Ferst Center for the Arts, Atlanta, on Sunday, March 23, 2014. This year’s recital was in two captivating segments. The first one Krishna, a ballet in Kathak, presented a few episodes from the life of Lord Krishna while the second segment regaled the audience with vintage Bollywood songs and dances associated with some of Bollywood’s leading divas. The spectacular program was emceed by Samta Savla, Vasanta Chivukula and Brittny Chandra.
This segment, innovatively and imaginatively presented fourteen Krishna Katha episodes which included; Nand Utsav – (celebrations of birth of Lord Krishna); Pranks of young Krishna, especially makhan chori-stealing butter; Childhood days as a cowherd; Kaliya daman – where Krishna tames serpent Kaliya; Govardhana Leela – Krishna lifts Govardhana Hill like an umbrella to protect the Vrindavan residents from a storm; and the piece-de-resistance Maha Raas. The performers depicted these fascinating episodes through fast-paced captivating dances replete with Kathak artistry in colorful costumes. The execution was flawless, with precision footwork and jingling ghunghroos, spins, and varying formations performed to live singing. In makhan chori, Kumud Savla as Yashoda brought the audience’s motherly emotions to life. It culminated with baby Krishna on top of the pyramid of dancers breaking the handi (cute little prop suspended from the top). Young cowherd Krishna, danced to popular song “Choti Choti Gaiya Chote Chote Gwal”, had the audience clapping and tapping their feet. Kaliya Daman, where Samta as Krishna subdued the poisonous Kaliya serpent and in the following episode where Krishna lifted Govardhana Hill (a very imaginative prop), elicited huge applauses. The finale in this segment was the breathtakingly exuberant Maha Raas dance, the Dance of Divine Love where Krishna plays flute and assumes multiple forms to perform raas with Radha and Gopis. The performers formed pairs and danced with dandiyas to the intricate rhythms —a visual treat for the audience which gave a booming applause.
NNKB has dedicated itself to the purity of Indian classical dance and music while adapting and leading with the changes infused by the youth. The academy founded by music director / choreographer Sandeep Savla and dance director and choreographer Kumud Savla has now added a second location in Cumming, Georgia. NNKB has instituted a dance and music certification program, affiliated with Ghandharva Mahavidyalaya of Pune and recognized its first batch of ten Visharad Graduates.
NNKB’s talented music students provided musical embellishment to the riveting dances in the first segment. The exquisite music was set by the proficient, gifted and talented Sandeep Savla.
The second segment, took the audience on a ride down the memory lane of some sparkling dances by over a dozen famed Bollywood divas. The segment began and ended with Classics medley. The classics medley opened with Bollywood’s iconic ‘showman’ Raj Kapoor under an umbrella singing the peppy song “pyaar hua ikrar hua”, along with Nargis. “Pyaar kiya to darna kya” and Pakeezah’s poignant mujra “Chalte chalte” captivated the audience. After the medley, the backdrop showed slides of Bollywood divas as the NNKB students performed dances on stage to few lines of songs brought to life by the divas.
The diverse age student groups successfully captured the cheerfulness and exuberance of the Indian culture through the kaleidoscope of hit Bollywood dances. They danced with their heart, encapsulated in subtle nuances, needed to reflect the gamut of moods, grace and finesse.
The entire show was a breathtaking riot of color, artistry and music that pushed the artistic boundaries. It was flawlessly executed and recognized by the vote of thanks expressed by Kumud and Sandeep Savla, to all involved. With every successive annual show, NNKB is raising the bar and gaining in popularity and acclaim.