Kathak Concert by Ameera Patankar at iTeach Ahilya Devi Holkar School
by Saumitra Kshirsagar
Baithak Foundation passionately works towards making Indian Classical Music easily accessible to children irrespective of their cultural and social background. It strongly believes that exposing children to good music in their formative years will create a positive impact on the society. On 13th June, the Foundation curated its first program for the current academic year (2018-19) at the iTeach Ahilya Devi Holkar School, Aundh. Ms. Ameera Patankar, a talented Kathak artist, presented a well sketched performance, handling all aspects of the dance style briefly and beautifully.
Around 80 children from classes 8thth to 10th had signed up for the concert. A few who hadn’t signed up earlier, also requested to be present for the concert. The concert began at 8:30am, just after the morning prayer, and was held on the school ground. Majority of the children were witnessing a live Kathak performance for the first time, and were curious about it. Unlike the traditional form of presenting a Kathak concert, Ameera instead chose to perform small pieces, with conversation in between explaining the specialties of each piece.
Ameera started the concert by explaining the origins of various classical dance forms across India. To make it interesting as well as easy to remember, she made the students imagine the map of India, and explained which state is known for which dance form, like Bharatnaatyam from Tamil Nadu, Odissi from Orissa, Kathak from Uttar Pradesh and North India, etc.
The first dance piece was a Vandanaa, an invocation to Shri Ram, which had slow graceful movements, set to an Alaap-like shloka. The next part was Taal Roopak, a traditional taal composition, with Gat-tukde, tihaayee and chakkar. She explained that a taal is a repetitive cycle of beats at a constant speed. She also made the students count the beats of Roopak in single and double tempo before starting the composition. Ameera drew attention of the audience to the distinctive aspect of Kathak – chakkar. She also explained the difference between “nritta” (pure dance) and “nrutya” (dance conveying a story).
The third part was “Kaaliya-mardan”, illustrating the “nrutya” aspect of Kathak. When Ameera began telling the story, few students excitedly raised their hands and told that they knew the story! But many didn’t, so Ameera narrated the story and the performed the piece set to Taal Teentaal. She also told the lyrics which were in Braj-bhasha, and its meaning. The last piece was the evergreen song – Baaje Muraliyaa Baaje, an old classic, originally sung by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi. For this piece, Ameera performed first, and then asked students their interpretation. Many students participated, and bit by bit told the entire theme of the presentation. It was inspiring to observe that Ameera could convey the smallest nuances of the song through her dance.
All the students enthusiastically participated in the question-answer session post performance. Counter-intuitively, boys were much bold in asking questions, and girls, who were initially shy, participated excitedly after a little coaxing! On behalf of the school, students gifted Ameera a sapling as a token of gratitude. Ameera said it was a memorable experience for her, as it was her first performance for an uninitiated audience, and expressed her willingness to participate in more such concerts.