Donning a dancer's garb

The sixth edition of the Nakshatra dance festival, which kickstarts this Friday, focusses on behind-the-scenes aspects of dance such as various kinds of Kathakali costumes as well as myriad techniques of Mohiniattam

“This time, we will focus on the costumes and the dance forms of Kathakali and Mohiniattam. Both these forms are not widely seen in Mumbai,” says Swapnaloka Dasgupta, head of programming at National Centre for the Performing Arts who is bracing for the sixth edition of the Nakshatra dance festival. Known for its wide spectrum of Classical dance performances, this year the festival will feature artistes such as CV Chandrashekhar, Mandakini Trivedi, Daksha Mashruwala and Vaibhav Arekar.

The costume of Narasimha
The costume of Narasimha  Pic courtesy/Shivani Gupta

The festival attracts a nexus of creative artistes and scholars in addition to the dancers. Dasgupta makes a case in point by mentioning the forthcoming visit of the BD Somani Institute of Art and Fashion Technology students for the Kathakali and Mohiniattam costumes exhibition. “Kathakali costumes are divided into five major types depending on the characters and are the end product of a journey going back 1,500 years. Wood, cloth, beads, gold foil and coloured stones are the raw materials from which they are crafted to give an effect of power and beauty,” says danseuse Mandakini Trivedi.

Kalamandalam Piyal and Mandakini Trivedi
Urvashi Shapam juxtaposes Kathakali and Mohiniattam by Kalamandalam Piyal (L) and Mandakini Trivedi (R)

Aficionados can also look forward to the performance piece, Urvashi Shapam comprising Mohiniattam and Kathakali by Trivedi and Kalamandalam Piyal respectively. The two dance forms from Kerala coalesce the masculine Kathakali with the feminine Mohiniattam.

Trivedi explains, “When Arjuna begs that he can only see Urvashi as the mother of the Kuru clan, she is insulted and hence, curses him. She is a strong female character who takes the liberty to define her own role.”

The other key highlight of the festival is a workshop by Bharatnatyam dancer CV Chandrasekhar. Dasgupta relates that the veteran artiste will “bring the focus back to the technique” as opposed to the rat race mindset of today’s dancers.

On: September 19 to 26, 11 am onwards at NCPA, Nariman Point. 
Call: 22824567

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