A three day Kathak Dance Festival wrapped up yesterday at the main auditorium of Chhayanaut Shangskrti Bhaban, in the capital. Arranged by Kathak Dance Community (KDC), the festival, inaugurated by noted dance personality Laila Hasan, featured an array of solo and group dances by noted and promising dancers of Bangladesh along with several dance schools.
Kathak, one of the eight forms of north Indian classical dances, originated from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story, and katthaka in Sanskrit means s/he who tells a story through dance. Reaching the Mughal court after the 16thcentury, Kathak began to acquire its distinctive shape and features. Today its popularity has cut across borders.
On the opening day (December 24), the organisers honoured Nrityaguru Syed Abul Kalam by conferring him the Zinat Jahan Memorial Award after a short discussion. This was followed by several dance presentations. Directed by Saju Ahmed, also the director of Kathak Dance Community, several artistes displayed a number of Kathak styles including bandana, panghat, chaturanga, nritya nirmity, gautjugal, meghmalika and tarana. Saju Ahmed with Oishi, Ruhi, Suparna, Jui, Benazir, Nirjhar and other dancers from Rangpur, Sylhet and Khulna took part in the performances.
On the second day (December 25), a seminar on Kathak Dance was held at Chhayanaut's seminar room in the morning. Sheikh Mehedi Hasan read out the key essay while noted dancers Amanul Haque, Munmun Ahmed, Nilufar Wahid Papri, Tabassum Ahmed, Abidur Rahman, Kazi Rakibul Haque, Partha Pratim Das, Tilottoma Sengupta and Benazir Salam were discussants at the seminar.
After a short discussion participated by dance personalities Amanul Haque, Golam Mostafa Khan, Minu Haque and Saju Ahmed, the second day's dance presentations started in the evening.
"Saju Ahmed has tirelessly traversed across Bangladesh for several decades teaching and nurturing Kathak artistes through popularising the genre. We have also seen his active leadership as the general secretary of Bangladesh Nritya Shilpi Sangstha (BNSS). Through the concerted effort of BNSS, we have convinced the University Grants Commission and the Dhaka University authority to open a distinctive Department of Dance at Dhaka University," said Minu Haque, current president of BNSS.
Young artistes of KDC set off the performance of the day. A solo presentation on dhamar, followed by Tabassum Ahmed. The artiste showcased emotive foot works with rhythmic balance. Choreographed by Saju Ahmed, three artistes --Pappu Saha, Suparna and Tanzina --of Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts presented nritya nirmity at the festival.
Choreographed by Abidur Rahman, several artistes presented akriti while Tilottoma Sengupta of Chittagong performed bandana with a thumri that was originally choreographed by legendary dance maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj. Ajmeri Maskura of Rangpur also presented a nirtya nirmity, choreographed by Saju Ahmed. The artiste's stylish presentation coupled with graceful eye movements was evocative.
Noted dancer Munmun Ahmed choreographed several performances that earned rounds of applause. Among them, solo nritya nirmity by Masum Hussain was captivating while Sharmin Soheli Soma's solo dancing to a thumri "Dagar Nayone", originally recorded by Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty, seemed like a spring time butterfly dancing around thousand flowers. The graceful eyes of Soma did justice to the rhythms of thumri. Soma with other dancers --Masum, Ongshu, Aroni, Rupkalpa, Wrisha and Nandini -- of Rewaz Performers School also presented a nritya nirmity. The dancers appeared like a group of blue nymphs on stage and enthralled the audience with their brisk gestures and adroit foot work.
Partha Pratim Das stood out as a dancer-choreographer on the second day. The artiste first danced to a devotional bhajan and later performed a tarana based on Raga "Bageshree". The imagery of spring circling Radha and Krishna during dol was articulated in the last performance by Partha.
Cultural personality Kamal Lohani graced the concluding day's (December 26) festival as chief guest while noted dancer Sharmila Bandyopadhyay with renowned Tagore singer Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya spoke on "Tagore's thoughts on Dance Drama".
Expressing solidarity with the recent shocking incidents in Ramu, the organisers staged a Tagore dance drama "Chandalika" based on Kathak styles. The dance drama, staged by Sylhet based dance troupe Nrityashoili, had several lead characters --Prokriti, Ma and Ananda --donned by Nilanjana Das Jui (troupe leader), Subarna Saha and Mostak Ahmed respectively. Pratik Enda Tony directed music while Saju Ahmed directed the dance drama. Emceed by Mahmuda Akhtar, Maasranga Television was media partner at the festival.