Basant Bahar 2013: “Kalakriti – A Creative Collaboration of Visual and Performing Arts”

 By Remitha Satheesh



Have you noticed that the two major events offered to Cary by Hum Sub – Basant Bahar and Cary Diwali- coincide with the advent of two of the most colorful seasons in the year – Spring and Fall. It is not a mere coincidence that both events offer a feast of colors in an abundance of audio-visual delights.


This year’s Basant Bahar, the Spring event of Hum Sub, was set around the theme of Kalakriti, exploring the creative collaboration of visual and performing arts.  The result was a handful of excellent performances woven around a painting or literary work of art, which also happened to literally form the backdrop of the performers on stage.


The two and a half hour program started off with the traditional invocation to Lord Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles. The fast paced note in Shankarabharanam, Shakti Sahita Ganapathim, by the very young Deana Prasad, set the tone for the day’s events.


First the local band Shukr7, celebrated Spring in Bengal with some soul stirring music. The music of the Bauls (the wandering minstrels of Bengal) is not something you get to hear here often and it was rendered to perfection by the singer. Other musical performances included a very innovatively put together fusion piece by Ranganayaki Rajan. It was a different sort of blend of Carnatic and Western music. The shades of Nalinakanti swept across, in tune with the gentle unfolding of a spiral flower.


Another was an instrumental ensemble by a young quartet that infused the evening with the flavor of western classical. Playing from memory with no notes to guide them, the young musicians handled their instruments with such aplomb that they made Padre Martini, Fritz Seitz and Mozart look easy!


The dances were mostly choreographed by the dance schools in the area and each one outdid the other in innovation and splendor. Chanchal Hari’s students presented two Bharatanatyam pieces -one in praise of Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja the Lord of Dance and the other in praise of Lord Subramanya.


Sridevi Jagannath’s students became a live glow in the dark Rangoli as they leaped and flitted across the stage, in linear and geometric patterns visually representing the Rangoli motif of an eight petaled flower.


Pt. Ravi Shankar, India’s most esteemed musical phenomenon was remembered in a wonderful tribute choreographed by Shilpa Sawale. As the delicate Kathak dancers displayed their excellent footwork on stage to Tarana from the album ‘Inside the Kremlin’, images ran on the backdrop, tracing the Maestro’s life right from childhood, covering personal and professional moments when he climbed the pinnacles of musical excellence, ending with the tribute from the endearing series of Amul Butter ads.


Padma Rao and her students danced to a piece from the Gitagovinda, the magnum opus of Jayadeva. This 12th century poem is all about the love and yearning of Radha for Krishna. The flora, fauna, the pristine landscape of the scenic Western Ghats and the river Yamuna came to life on the screen as Radha pined away for her love. This performance also displayed an acrylic painting of the eternal lovers Radha and Krishna, a work by Padma Rao herself.


It truly was an evening when the Gods walked on stage, when the students of the Chinmaya Mission RDU Chapter’s Bal Vihar presented their Swaranjali. This unique performance put together by Prakash Bhave was a depiction of the Dasavatara -the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu – to the accompaniment of soothing Bhajans. It was indeed a divinely inspired presentation from the singers and dancers. Besides imparting cultural values based on the Hindu scriptures to the children, Bal Vihar obviously trains them in the performing arts too!


Then the stage burst forth in a twirl of skirts and pulsating music as the dancers of Rustic and Royal Rajasthan entered the scene. This well-coordinated performance choreographed by Kriti Bhatia brought together the two ends of the colorful Rajasthani spectrum in a seamless blend of classical Kathak and folksy Kalbelia. The white costumes of the Kathak dancers against the black ones of the Kalbelia dancers highlighted just one of the many aspects of the complementary contrast in the nature of the desert state with its opulent palaces and dry sands.


It is not often that one gets to see the dance styles from the North Eastern states of India. So it was a rare glimpse into the folk traditions of Assam as Monalisa Barua and her team of energetic dancers welcomed spring to the beats of the dhol (drum) and notes of the peepa (horn) in the Bihu dance set amidst a backdrop of bucolic Assam.


Matri-Mother! What are we without her? Rinku Bhattacharya and her team of flawless dancers paid tribute to the universal idea of Motherhood in three of its forms – Durga, the Spiritual Mother, the Earth Mother and Mother India. While the first two were choreographed to Bengali folk tunes, obeisance was paid to Mother India through India’s national song, Vande Matharam.  In addition to classical dance, movements from martial arts were also ingeniously woven into the performance.


The whole state of Maharashtra and especially the capital city of Mumbai joins with the greatest enthusiasm to celebrate Ganesh Utsav, a festival dedicated to the elephant headed God who is the benevolent protector. The final performance of the day choreographed by Meera Krishnamurthy encapsulated the fervor of this festival on stage and recreated the spirit of the dynamic city of Mumbai with an energetic performance by a group of young dancers dressed in traditional Marathi costume. Eight pieces of art dedicated to Ganesha set the tone for the dance as the artists and dancers dedicated both Kala and Kriti to Lord Ganesha.


It was an evening when the performers lit up the stage with grace, talent and depth. And sharing the spotlight with the dancers and musicians were the visual artists of Cary. Several works by the students and teachers of Hum Sub’s art classes were exhibited as integral parts of the performances.


Cary Arts Center once again played host to an event that added yet another colorful episode to the vibrant multicultural milieu that Cary is fast turning into.  And Hum Sub once again heralds in Spring with an amazing display of local talent with its Basant Bahar 2013!