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Khajuraho Dance Festival 2016 promotes classical dances, enthralls audience

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Chattarpur, MP: Methil Devika, a Mohiniyattam exponent currently performing at the 42nd edition of Khajuraho dance festival in Madhya Pradesh takes it as a dream come true to perform with so much divine energy of Khajuraho. She is so overwhelmed by the experience.

“While performing, I experienced potent divine energy here,” said Devika.

The Khajuraho festival, held on February 20-26, was organized by Madhya Pradesh culture department to brought together some of the prominent artists of classical dance form like Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Odissi.

Devika, who is the winner of Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, Devadasi National Award and Kerala Sangeeta Nataka Akademi award, attract the audience with her exceptional dance steps on Mohiniyattam.

She felt so blessed to perform in front of the Vishwanatha Temple devoted to Lord Shiva and Chitragupta Temple devoted to Surya, the Hindu sun god.

“If earlier, Khajuraho was all about splendour, dance, and publicity, now I see it in a different light. One has to be blessed to perform here. The energy is tremendous,” said Devika, who is also trained in Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi.

According to her, Khajuraho has an important role in promoting classical dances.

“Khajuraho is on the top of the list of every artist. When Khajuraho gives you the chance, you know that you are there. There are very few stages in India which are as significant as this. The festival not only promotes the venue but also inculcates a desire amongst dancers to vie for excellence,” she said.

Devika used different and new styles in her 40 minutes performance which was a totally a special experience for the viewers. She brings a new connotation Mohiniyattam, which means “dance of the enchantress” and uses “lasya” as its major move. She is in the mission to redefine the concept of lasya.

“As a dancer, I believe that one needs to revive the art form. One should explore further within the grammar. For me, lasya only means a solo art form, an art form which can tell the stories of love. I want to define enchantment as the enchantment of one’s own soul,” she said.

Devika started her performance with a devotional part on Shivshakti from Soundarya Lahri. She continued with padam composed by Swati Tirunal showing the unconsummated love of the nayika on the description of her Lord Vishnu and the roudram in her tribute to goddess Mahakali or Tandav by Lord Shiva. Devika’s variation from the typical style was an exciting experience for the audience.

“For me, it is all about exploring the potential of an art form. I find Mahakali enchanting because she has the power to destroy the evil,” said Devika adding that art has to benefit society.

She believes in raising the masses whether it’s contemporary or folk dance.

The dance research scholar said, “Contemporary dance means taking a dance back to the roots. If I learn martial art tomorrow, I can do contemporary Mohiniyattam. It’s all about tapping the potential of an art form to heal or inducing a style.’’ (IANS)

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Crotia-Born Bharatnatyam Danseuse Finds Indian Youngsters Now Focussing on their Physical Expressions

She is trained in classical ballet, contemporary dance, folk dances, flamenco, physical theatre, and yoga, apart from Bharatanatyam

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physical expressions, bharatnatyam
Heading her own dance academy now, she said that learning the Indian classical dance has completed her as a human and as an artist. Flickr

Croatia-born Bharatanatyam danseuse Nikolina Nikoleski, who was encouraged to pursue dance forms and sports from childhood, finds to her delight that more and more Indian youngsters are taking to physical expression.

“India has recently changed and is still going through changes in last 6-8 years where more youngsters are also being exposed and encouraged in physical expression,” Nikoleski, 43, told IANS in an interview.

“I see that as a very positive change and good sign. Being healthy and free in one’s body is the foundation of a good and complete life,” she said.

Speaking about her own early practice, Nikoleski recalled: “I was born and brought up in Croatia where children from a very tender age are exposed and encouraged to pursue various dance forms and sports. Almost every child then takes this hobby very seriously.”

bharatnatyam, physical expressions
She is trained in classical ballet, contemporary dance, folk dances, flamenco, physical theatre, and yoga, apart from Bharatanatyam. Flickr

The hobbies later translate to professional spaces, and make Croatia — with a population of close to 42 lakh people — a country with “world, Olympic and European champions in every sport”, she said. She is trained in classical ballet, contemporary dance, folk dances, flamenco, physical theatre, and yoga, apart from Bharatanatyam.

Nikoleski’s quest to learn multiple dance forms took her from the small European country, where she started with gymnastics at the age of four, to the land of multiple cultures and dance forms — India.

Settled in Delhi since 2005, the professional dancer-teacher has learnt Bharatanatyam in India under the tutelage of gurus Saroja Vaidyanathan, Malavika Sarukkai, as well as Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan.

Coming from the light-footed ballet tradition, it took dedicated practice for Nikoleski to master this age-old dance form, that requires the performer to do heavy footwork along with gestures and body movements.

physical expressions, bharatnatyam
Coming from the light-footed ballet tradition, it took dedicated practice for Nikoleski to master this age-old dance form, that requires the performer to do heavy footwork along with gestures and body movements. Flickr

“I fell in love with Bharatanatyam because of its amazing holistic art, beautiful expression, use of all body, including facial expressions, ‘mudras’, intricate footwork, state-of-art costume and jewellery, music and ragas.

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“They transform and elevate one’s feelings. Most importantly, it’s storytelling of ancient spiritual scripts, devotional poetry and brilliantly expresses all human yearnings, longings, emotions, and inner battles,” she explained.

Heading her own dance academy now, she said that learning the Indian classical dance has completed her as a human and as an artist. Nikoleski’s students – 73 of them, with ages ranging from four to 70 – performed classical ballet, contemporary and jazz dances at an event here last week. (IANS)