An initiative by Bharatanatyam exponent Dr Sandhya V Purecha, propagated Indian cultural traditions through classical dance.
A very famous saying goes “when you work in silence people enemies don’t know where to attack’ I feel same goes for artists too. When a Dancer silently does research, Very quietly prepares his or her choreographies and when the right time comes out from the rehearsal hall and shows the world what it takes to be a great artist. The other contemporary or counter parts don’t know how to reach to the master piece that the artist has created. One such fantastic artist is my dear friend Bharatanatyam exponent Dr Sandhya V Purecha.
Sarfojiraje Bhosale B.N.T. & R. Centre is one of the leading classical dance training and research centre providing Diploma, Degree, Post Graduation and Ph.D courses affiliated to Kavikulaguru Kalidas Sanskrit University, Ramtek, Nagpur established by Government of Maharashtra, recognised by UGC & AIU, New Delhi. The initiator of festival, is Sandhya ji who apart from being an exemplary Bharatanatyam exponent is also a Sanskrit Scholar, Researcher, Choreographer, Innovator, Founder of renowned dance college in Mumbai, a Cultural Administrator, a unique melange of a Performing Academician.
SOCH — Save Our Cultural Heritage (Ancient Heritage of Indian Dance) is a campaign with the aim to Preserve traditionalism, Promote Innovations and Propagate Indian cultural heritage through Indian classical dance through various festivals. Sandhyaji and Sarfojiraje Bhosale Centre organised ‘Sanskriti Mahotsav — A Unique Classical Dance Festival’ for two days which was held at the P. L. Deshpande Maharashtra Kala Academy, Ravindra Natya Mandir Campus, Mumbai, it was a part of the festivals under SOCH – Save Our Cultural Heritage’. Let me tell you that this one its kind festival is supported by ministry of culture, government of India.
Initiated in 2010, the festival aims to inspire and enthral art lovers in Mumbai with performances celebrating the rich heritage of Indian classical dances by senior and distinguished artistes from across the world. Each year on this occasion, the centre confers the Gaurav Puraskar to the senior artistes for their lifelong devotion and contribution in the field of Indian Classical Dance and aims to bring the most legendary senior exponents to give an opportunity to art lovers in Mumbai to experience the rich heritage of Indian dances.
This year the festival was a treat for the audience as Day 1 of the festival saw, Guest Artist Mohiniyattam exponent from Vadodara, Ayswaria Wariar commenced with a Ganesh Vandana followed by a Malayalam Pada in praise of Lord Vishnu of which the presentation of the Dashavatar was highly impressive. Next up was Archana Joglekar, the daughter-disciple of Late Guru Smt. Asha Joglekar, who has successfully spread the essence of traditional Kathak all over North America. She began with Tulsidas' popular Bhajan Sri Ramachandra Krupalu beautifully incorporating episodes from the Ramayana of Rama and Sita's first encounter and their journey forth. Her disciple Ariaki Dandavate presented a Tarana choreographed by Archana and in a span of 7 minutes, she performed a powerful piece with 120 spins.
The day one culminated on a very high note as in a pristine ceremony The Gaurav Puraskar was conferred on Archana Joglekar by the hands of the Chief Guest Shri Deelip Shinde, presently the Controller of Rationing and Managing Director, Mahanand Dairy, Mumbai and the Festival Organiser Dr. Purecha
The next day of the festival was a total delight. The festival began with an outstanding performance by Sandhya ji that left every member of the packed audience awe-inspired and engaged establishing just the right atmosphere for a perfect beginning. The challenging Anand Tandava Shlokam descriptive of Lord Nataraj's pose was performed by Sandhya ji with immense power and poise. She was then accompanied by her disciples in the Nritta Pada Bho Shambho in Revathi and Aditala. The composition including the group choreography, coordination, body line and aramandi in each student reflected their guru’s immaculate training and perfection. What stood out were the various poses of the Sapta Tandava from Dr. Purecha's research on the Sanskrit treatise Shri Tatva Nidhi. Next, she performed her most celebrated Javali by Dharmapuri Subrayyar in Khamas working a lovelorn Nayika calls out to her lover pleading with him to embrace her as the arrows of Cupid torment her. Sandhya ji’s winsome and compelling abhinaya complement
ed by the Nayika's gentle grace truly stole the hearts of many.
Dr. Sandhya Purecha’s group is empanelled by the ICCR and graded as an Outstanding group by the Festival of India Cell, ministry of culture, government of India and the disciples who accompanied her were Chitra Dalvi, Suhani Dhanki, Aishwarya Sakhare, Pushkara Deochake, Shambhavi Labde and Durva Patkar.
After this elevated beginning, Guest Artist from Bengaluru, SNA Awardee Vyjayanthi Kashi performed a Tarangam evocatively highlighting the motherly instinct with Bal Krishna's playfulness followed by rigorous Nritta on the brass plate. She concluded with Gandhari, an excellent piece in the traditional Kuchipudi dance drama pattern narrating the tale of a young expectant girl who had to face the brutal reality of being married to a blind man.
Her absorbing and eloquent performance stirred the audience with goosebumps and was received with a standing ovation. To conclude, Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar, 75 year old Kathak Guru from UK, the first gandabandhashagird of the legend Pt. Birju Maharaj, graced the stage with an invocation to Lord Krishna followed by some traditional yet unseen Todas in Teentala followed by a complex Tihai in Jhaptaal. His Abhisarika Nayika recreated the vintage era with his subtle yet convincing abhinaya with adept support from Somnath Mishra on the vocal, Pt. Kalinath Mishra on the Tabla, Alka Guzar on the Sitar and Satyaprakash Mishra on the Pakhwaj.
The ceremony concluded with conferring the Gaurav Puraskar on the two guest artists by Dr. Purecha along with the chief guest, Dr. Shailesh Shrivastav, eminent Musicologist and Assistant Director – Programme, Doordarshan Kendra, Guest of Honour Senior-most Kathak Exponent, Padmashree & SNA Awardee Guru Smt. Sunayana Hazarilal and Special Guest Pandita Uma Dogra, Senior Kathak Exponent.
I believe in the city of Mumbai, there is only one person, and that is Sandhya ji who can bring together such a phenomenal gathering of rasikas, artists, Gurus, art lovers, art critics, young dancers and students for an Indian classical dance festival. Each of the guest artists were left truly overwhelmed with the honour and appreciation received. Lets all stand up and thank Sandhya ji for silently doing such incredible work of saving our cultural heritage.
The writer is a World Book Record holder, a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with two National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on sandip firstname.lastname@example.org