Asian Music and Dance

Guru Purnima Celebrations

Guru Purnima, an important event in the Hindu calendar, signifies an opportunity to pay tribute to those whom we hold in the highest regard. It is a day on which students of the arts and education seek the blessings of their ‘Guru’ or ‘Guruma’ as a catalyst for development. 

On 12 July, the day of Guru Purnima 2014, students at the Dancing Nikita Company celebrated this significant occasion by hosting a live evening performance with Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar, an internationally-renowned kathak dance artist and teacher. Pratap Pawar has dedicated over fifty-five years to this North Indian dance style. He is particularly known for his command of rhythm and has the privilege of being the first disciple of Pandit Birju Maharaj.

Over the course of an hour and a half, students and spectators were taken on a journey through kathak dance. The performance started with a traditional devotional bhajan dedicated to Lord Krishna titled Shri Krishna Soundarya. Composed by Pandit Vishwa Prakash, the bhajan featured chapters from Lord Krishna’s life. This was a powerful opening piece. It evoked a mixture of emotions, from tenderness when recalling Krishna’s childhood mischief, to the disgust at the attempted disrobing of Princess Draupadi by the Kauravas, which necessitated the intervention of Krishna, in the famous incident from the Mahabharata.

The performance then moved to the technical section, through two taals and covering the diverse repertoire from thaat to paran and tihai to tora. Noteworthy was the use of space throughout, given the intimate set-up of the presentation with the audience just a few steps away from the artist. This allowed students in particular to vividly observe the differing characteristics of teen taal versus dhamar taal

One of the final items included an adaption of a famous piece of Urdu poetry written by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor in India. Several audience members were brought to tears through Pratap Pawar’s intense portrayal of the Mughal emperor as he yearned to be reunited, in death, with his beloved land dafn ke liye do gaz zamin bhi na mili’. Artistry was beautifully complemented by lighting, with only the performer’s upper body illuminated in an otherwise dark room. This heightened the inherent anguish that was being conveyed. It was a truly captivating performance to end a series of evening events hosted at the Dancing Nikita Company.



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