Kathak Concert by Poorva Bhattad
At the iTeach Babu Jagjeevan Ram School, Yerawada, 24 June 2019
Upon entering the classroom at iTeach BJR, which temporarily functioned as a cosy concert space, one could not but sense the excitement of around 40 teenagers waiting to experience their first ever live music concert. It was a Kathak performance by Pooja Bhattad, senior disciple of Nayantara Parpia, a renowned Kathak artist.
As per the tradition, Pooja began the concert with a ‘vandana’. But before the actual performance, she briefly told the students a little about how vandana is set to a piece of pre-composed music, generally a Sanskrit shloka devotional in nature. After performing the piece, she asked students to decipher its content. Many students told what they understood, and all were right! Pooja then explained the shloka and movements associated with its meaning. They were a couple of Shiva-stuti shloka-s beautifully blended together.
The second piece was nritta, pure Kathak dance in Taal Teentaal. Pooja explained the concept of taal, maatra (beats), and aavartan. She also explained how all pieces end at a fixed point (sam), and gave parallel examples from our day-to-day lives to relate to the concept of laya. Pooja performed ‘thaat’, ‘gat-tukde’, ‘ginti’, ‘tihaayee’, and ‘chakradhaar’ in Teentaal. The third and final piece was a Thumri in Raag Hameer, depicting Krishna-leela. Pooja performed this piece elegantly, conveying the nuances of the composition through graceful mudraa-s. Pooja asserted here, that Kathak is a great medium to express emotions through well coordinated actions and is ultimately a medium of storytelling. No wonder then, that Kathak artists are traditionally called ‘Kathaakaar-s’.
Towards the end, Pooja even taught some basic footwork (tatkaar) to the students. Students enjoyed a lot, and also learnt that it is a long way before one imbibes the art form. It was very encouraging that Nayantara ji was present for the concert, and enthusiastically led the small ‘tatkaar’ tutorial session. A few other students from Nayantara ji’s institute were also present, and shared their inputs too.