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Shivangini Academy Students Present Kathak-based Charulata

Charulata-in-4

Photos: Navin Mediwala

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STAFFORD: The students of Shivangini Academy presented a Kathak-based dance drama, Charulata, based on the story of Cinderella on November 18 and 19.

Shivangini Academy Director Shiva Mathur, an exponent of the Lucknow gharana, showcased her creative skills to masterfully express this story, weaving it with Kathak and the associated ‘Abhinay’ art.

Charulata-in-3

The show started with several classical Kathak-based dances, interspersed with live tabla and dholak segments, intended to provide the audience a flavor of a student’s classical journey in the Academy. This section of the program was a prelude to the feature presentation and included students from all the three wings: Dholak, Tabla and Kathak.
The performers in the Charulata production, brought several magical moments from this classic tale to life. Enthralling scenes included one when the fairy godmother appeared and dramatically changed the destiny of Charulata by transforming her into a gorgeous princess. The fast-paced choreography was truly mesmerizing.

Charulata-in-2

Another captivating scene showed the Royal Ball and the bhav ntritya (focus on expressions) of the Prince and Charulata’s attraction to each other. This was followed by the dramatic transformation of Charulata back to rags at the midnight hour and her hurried departure, leaving her magical shoe behind.

Several comic moments were weaved into the performance such the shoe-fitting scene where several village maidens came to try their luck with the magical shoe. The LED wall and its backdrops changing with amazing precision further added a brilliant impact to the story telling. The audience gave a standing ovation to the performers, a testimony to the hard work of all involved, particularly the Guru Mrs. Mathur.

Charulata-in-1

Kathak is one of the most prominent classical art forms of North India and traditionally started with bands of dancers moving from village to village telling a story (katha) to the willing crowds. Mrs. Mathur craft fully used the same technique of storytelling through two traditional village characters – Nat and Natty.

Several sections of the dance-drama were supported by live music and vocals. Well known sitar artist Shane Monds and vocal artist Neela Chakravarti, and Mrs. Mathur’s own Dholak and Tabla students performed the live segments.

The fairy godmother was wonderfully portrayed by a senior student – Muskaan Chaturvedi. The role of stepmother was brought to life by another senior student- Bianca Chandwani. Stepsisters were well portrayed by Sanjana Puthigai and Mehek Sikka. The role of the prince was very well performed by Isha Borkar, and to perform Charulata in rags, a 12th year student – Swati Kundra was selected. For the role of the princess, Mrs. Mathur’s own daughter Tarika Nath was selected.

The two sets of dancers who portrayed the role of Nat and Natty were Anika Saharia and Jilmil Das on the 18th and Anjali Asarpota and Misha Patel on the 19th. The royal messengers or the Rajdoots were ably presented by Riya Solanki, Riya Parikh and Sanjana Ganjam on the 18th and Shreya Dhutia, Eshna Parikh and Anjana Patel on the 19th. The performance played to a packed hall on both the days!

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