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A Nrityanjali

Nritya means ‘expressive dance’ and Anjali ‘offering’. We bring before you an offering of selected dance presentations from the wide repertoire of the north Indian classical dance form of Kathak.

Kathak is one of the oldest classical dance forms of India and has flourished along the Indo-Gangetic valley for almost two thousand years. The word Kathak literally means “the art of story telling”. Though these stories are from our ancient legends, the sentiments and ideas they portray are universal and relevant even today. The dramatic portrayals are interspersed with abstract dance set to intricate melodic and rhythmic patterns.

Amita Dutt – exponent, professor, choreographer, director, scholar, critic and columnist - is among the bright luminaries in the field of contemporary Indian classical dance. She has constantly popularized Kathak through her recitals, innovative choreographic creations, talks, interviews, articles and workshops both in and outside India and is the Uday Shankar Professor and Dean of the Faculty Council of Under Graduate & Post Graduate Studies in Fine Arts & Performing Arts, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.


Amita Dutt as Durga

The valiant, energetic, graceful, benign, resplendent Devi Durga with the three radiant eyes has ruled supreme in Bengal for the last four centuries. Devi Paksha, the fortnight ushered in by the New Moon of Mahalaya, is a time of festive joy in Bengal.

Legend has it that Ram prayed to Durga at this time in order to gain strength to fight the formidable Ravan. Vijaya is thus a celebration of both Devi’s victory over the demon Mahishasura and Ram’s defeat of Ravan.

In Bengal, Durga symbolizes prime energy as well as qualities of motherliness and tenderness. Durga is beautiful, learned, energetic and above all victorious.

Amita Dutt portrays the theme of Durga, bringing alive the story of Ram’s misfortune, his prayer to Durga and his subsequent victory, through classical dance set to Sanskrit verses and popular Bengali and Hindi songs.


Dance presentations:

Jago tumi Jago: The opening number is set to the ever-popular Mahalaya song in which the power of the goddess is evoked.

Sita Haran: The context from the Ramayana – Sita Haran – that led Ram to seek the blessings of Durga is portrayed through the narrative technique of Kathak known as Gat bhava. This traditional solo piece is in the true ‘story telling’ style of Kathak. The story is about the abduction of Ram’s wife Sita by the demon Ravana. Five characters are portrayed: Ram, the hero of the Ramayana, his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, the antagonist Ravan and the golden deer. Movements and expression ‘tell’ the story.

Durga Japa Mantra: The Durga Japa Mantra Namaste Sharanye is here used as the vehicle to portray the multi-dimensional personality of Devi Durga– the omnipresent, the loving, the giver of happiness (Aananda Roopa) and the destroyer (Chandi). It is to this all-pervasive deity that Ram offered His prayers.

Saadra: The Kathak narrative style is used to portray the battle between Ram and Ravan that brought havoc to Lanka. The item closes with the touching lament of Ravan’s wife Mandodari.

Bhavani Dayani: This Bhairavi bhajan is used as the anchor for the portrayal of Durga’s vanquishing of Mahishasura and also of her various manifestations.


Sarva mangala mangalye: The various manifestations of Durga are portrayed in this prayer or pranaam mantra.

Nritt Prasang: This is a traditional abstract piece that portrays the durbari style of Kathak. Various rhythmic patterns in different tempos set to the beautiful Raaga Desh and Tritaal (16 beats) are used as the vehicle for the dance. Such abstract compositions were very much in vogue in the Muslim courts.

Trinayani Durga: The evocative song made unforgettable by Dhananjay Bhattacharya is used as the anchoring lyric for the dance personification of the two facets of Durga – the homely mother who comes to her worshipper’s home and the powerful destroyer of evil.

Nava Durga: The nine facets of Durga described in the Chandi are personified. They are: Shailaputri, Mahayogi, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamaataa, Kaatyayani, Kaalaraatri, Mahagouri, Siddhidaatri.

Reviews on Durga

In the eastern region, autumn is the sea-son of Devi Durga, the patron goddess of this side of the country. On the day of Mahalaya — the new-moon day prior to the arrival of Devi Durga —Amita Dutt told the tale of Durga through a classical dance form, Kathak, at the city's Rotary Sadan.
The theme was audience, friendly, as everything about it was so familiar. It was the narration of a tale-which almost every house- hold in the eastern zone have grown up hearing. The songs chosen appealed to all those present, as most of the tunes have been a part of Bengal for many years.

With a set of beautiful young girls, with excellent team spirit, Amita not only showed sorhegood bit of-the-iatricacies Kathak but also captured the attention of the audience by the eye catching perfect friezes, which were intricately woven into the drama.
The entire presentation represented an amalgamation of classical rendition, with a mood which was contemporary and also in. keeping with the festival season, which was around the comer.

The lyrics chosen were mostly in Sanskrit or Bengali.

The song Jago tumi jago, with which the ballet started, mesmerised the audience. The song which followed was Trinayani Durga, immortalised by Dhananjay in the film Dhuli. Some of the other popular songs used were Giri Nandini by Sankaracharya;Dayani Bhavani.
The song which said her beauty is more than. crores and crores of moons put together: was an apt description of the goddess. And. Amita, adorned as Durga, befitdngly bejew elled and costumed, was the very picture of the Devi. The dance was aesthetically chore-ographed.

The group of talented dancers, Saptarshi: Arpita, Vasudhara, Bamali, Suranjan helped her to glide through.

A Dance performance at Rotary Sadan on the eve of Mahalaya brought out the best in Kathak exponent Amita Dutt. The opening number ,jago tum Jago - a duet by Dutt and Saptarshi Roy - was captiviting.Dutt's expressive face conveyed powerfully the multi - faceted personality of the Goddess - energetic, powerful and loving. In Vaishnavi, she portrayed the emergence of the 10-armed slayer of he demon—asura. Brilliantly choreographed, the number was fascinating. Her Solo pieces in true classical style were masterpieces, proving her command over the dance form.
Resplendent in a red outfit and gold ornaments, her presence on stage inspired awe. Ayi Giri Nandini was a choreographer's marvel. The measured movements were remarkably well-coordinated and spelt grace. The reverberating shlokas combined beautifully with Dutt's movements etched in elegance and held the audience in thrall.

There is no place for Durga in Kathak but Amita Dutt managed to break new ground. A review by Tapati Chowdhurie

DURGA is the daughter of Bengal worshipped as a goddess who can grant boons. What could be more appropriate than Anandachandrika's presentation of Durga at Mahajati Sadan on Mahalaya which marks the beginning of Devipaksha?

Kathak traditionally was danced in praise ofVishnu and his incarnations. Amita has broken new ground by bringing in a deity of the shaktos. "There is no place for Durga in Kathak, but I am a daughter of Bengal and I wanted Durga", was her simple statement. Thus did the mortal daughter invoke the blessings of the goddess intheduetnuberJaR tum Jago.

Her abhinaya In all the Gathbhavas shown through mime and music in the typical Kathak tradition showed maturity. The emotion of sringara Rasa at the scene at Panchabati when Amita took the roles of Rama and Sita alternately and the roudra Rasa of Dasanan, along with his triumphant laughter, on successfully abducting Rama's consort were of Interest. The change of characters in the several narratives was swift. The stories flowed easily and helped comprehension.

Equally imaginative was the inclusion of the moving lyric Shesha Phana daga magyo of the Lucknow Kathak Gharana In which Mandodarl pleads with her husband not to fight a war where his opponent is being helped by the Devi herself. No rule in the shastras state,according to Amita that there can be nothing classical in what Is popular and that which is pupular cannot be classical. So she chose the pupular film song Trinayani
Durga to show the dual image of Durga.The goddess, says Amita Is an epitome of all that the modern day Indian woman aspires to be, for Durga is a loving mother as well as a vanquisher of evil to the social scientist this may be another way in which society binds a woman to shoulder all burdens leaving her male counterpart comparatively free. But from the dance critics’ point of view, Amita was able to rise above showing the mere
technicalities. Her conceptualization was more perfect than her execution. However it was a perfect evening and the audience spent a pleasant time watching her and her troupe dance. At every step one could see the amount of research Amita had put in. Besides a thorough study of Sri Sri Chandi, she seems to have touched on every known literature on Durga. She seemed to have done it painstakingly and the effort was commendable.

Amita choreographed and directed the program besides doing the twin task of composing and narrating it. She also wrote the script herself. Chandrachur Bhattachalrya,Santi Ranjan Chakraborty and Tarit Bhattacharya spoke for themselves in the beautiful musical score. Among the dancers Saptasri and Dibendu looked promising. Debolina as Sallaputri looked matchless. Joyceta who acted as Kusmanda did very well. The program was neat. More perfection of the theme with less repetition would have helped to make the production more interesting.

Chitra Jhankar

Choreographer's Note

“Performing on the professional stage for almost two decades, I have realized that people like to see items on well known songs and themes.

“It has been my mission to popularize Kathak and make it a style of dance people will love and identify with. My Kathak presentations on Nazrul Geeti and Rabindra Sangeet were all efforts in this direction.

“Encouraged by these earlier attempts, I am now taking a further step in this direction by presenting Kathak based on Hindi film songs. The songs chosen are classical Raaga-based ones and are all tunes which have been popular for more than two or three decades.

“These songs are all re-recorded, the interlude music being composed according to the needs of our dance style.

“There are solo as well as group numbers and all the dancers participating beside myself have been personally trained by me over the last twelve years.”

Amita Dutt,
Uday Shankar Professor of Dance
Dean,Faculty of Fine Arts,
Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata.

The Presentations


Raag: Haamir. Film: Meerabai.

All classical dance forms of India originated in the ancient Hindu temples where the dance was a part of the ritualistic worship. In keeping with the age-old tradition, even today, all dance presentations begin with a Vandana or a bhajan – a hymn in praise of a particular deity. The dominant mood in this inaugural item is that of bhakti or devotion.

Chitra Jhankar begins with the famous hymn to Krishna originally sung by Shubha Lakshmi in the film Meerabai and is no other than the ever popular “Baso mere nainan me Nandalal.” Meera pleads with her Lord Krishna to reside in the realm of her vision.

She describes the beauty of the dark, winsome son of Nanda who wears the peacock feather crown and a garland made from the ethereal Baijayanti flowers. A tiny bell adorns his waist and the reverberation of his anklet is melodious. He brings happiness to all saints and blesses all his followers. Meera prays to her Lord and seeks union with Him.

The musical interludes describe Krishna and his exploits such as the lifting of Mount Govardhan to save his followers from torrential rain. The final music, showing alternating images of Meera and Krishna, culminates in their union.


Raag: Darbari Kanara. Film: Beti Bete.

Cher-char or Radha and Krishna teasing each other is a very popular, recurring theme in Kathak presentations. Krishna, abandoning his divine, superhuman qualities suddenly becomes a romantic hero – very attractive but human and vulnerable.

In this sequence Radha, suddenly finding Krishna fast asleep, decides to hide his flute. On waking, Krishna cannot find his flute bit knows soon enough who the culprit can be. Radha at first shows surprise at being accused and does her utmost to prove her innocence. Then, advised by her friends, she promises to return the flute but does so only towards the very end of the item.

Replete with fun, mischief, naughtiness and laughter, cher-char is set to the song “Radhike tu ne Bansuri Churai” from the film Beti Bete. The taals used in this item are Ektal. Addha and Tritaal.


Raag: Khamaj. Film: Amar Prem.

Vatsalya Rasa or the mood in which the devotee sees God as his or her own child is one of the sweetest of all experiences within the bhakti or mystical cult.

The devotee, as mother Yashoda, enjoys the pranks and mischief of Krishna who is seen as a lovable though naughty child.

The item opens with village maidens of Vrindavan churning butter. Completing their daily chores, they stow the butter on lofts and then start chatting with each other. As they are lost in conversation, the naughty young Krishna, accompanied by all his friends comes, and espying the butter, breaks the earthen pitchers with stones and they all help themselves to enormous quantities of butter.

The village maidens, on seeing this, call Yashoda who soon realizes who the main culprit is. Mother Yashoda scolds Krishna and ties him to a post. But how can she be so cruel to her son who is naughty and yet so lovable?

What can Yashoda do? Her child, the son of Nanda is so naughty. He steals butter, he hides, yet he is the light of her life, the hero of her dreams and one loved by all. What can Yashoda do? Such is the bond between mother and child – a bond of love and unfailing loyalty.

The song is in Raag Khamaj and Dadra Taal and the introductory music in Rupak and Tritaal.


Raag: Haamir Film: Kohinoor

If Shiva as Nataraj, is associated with the dance of frenzy, Krishna, as Natavar, is associated with the dance of love, which is replete with grace and beauty. Krishna’s divine dance can only be matched by the exquisite movements of his consort Radha’s dance, the description of which forms the subject of our next presentation.

The setting is the picturesque grove Madhuban in Vrindavan. Radha is dancing in ecstatic glee and Krishna’s flute is pouring out its mellifluous melody. The mridanga or the drum is reverberating to the sound of Radha’s ankle bells. The movements of Radha as she dances are compared to flashes of lightning, for both are splendid and electrifying.

The item set to Raag Haamir and Tritaal incorporates a rich variety of natwari bols, parans, tihais and tatkar.


Raag: Gour Malhar Film: Barsat ki Ek Raat

Varsha, or the Monsoons, is unparalleled in its grandeur. Heavy clouds racing across the skies, flashes of lightning, the reverberation of thunder, gusty winds and incessant rain, all form a setting that is at once magnificent as well as ominous.

While describing the grandeur of the scene, the heroine implores Varsha to bring back her lover. But the lover does not come.

Her friends adorn her and try to make her happy. But her incessant tears are like the pouring rains. She feels that all her beauty is faded in the absence of her lover. The contrast between the splendour of the season and the sad state of the heroine is highlighted through the song.

Nritta and Nritya – abstract and expressive dance – combine in this presentation set to Tritaal.


Raag: Basant Film: Basant Bahar

If Varsha, or the Monsoons is unparalleled in its grandeur, Vasanta or Spring is unparalleled in its exquisite beauty. It is the season when trees are abloom and when lakes are full of lotuses, when the air is scented and when happiness and love are all -pervasive.

The presentation begins with a description of spring from Kalidas’s Ritu Samhar and then we have the famous lyric Ketaki gulab juhi champaka bana phule in Raag Basant. All the beautiful flowers – the keya, the rose, the jasmine and the champak are filling the earth with their colour and perfume. The humming of the birds can be heard in the orchards and the lanes. The Koel is pouring forth its melody. Spring itself, personified as god Cupid, accompanied by his beloved, is here on earth and they are sitting on the swing and swaying in the bower. In spring love awakens in the hearts of everyone. Cupid’s beloved, with her mellifluous voice and sweet words wins the heart of the God of Love.

Ser to Raag Basant and Ektaal, the item incorporates nritta (abstract) and nritya (expressive) dance.






Raag: Mishra Bhairavi Film: Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hai

Can there be lightning without rain, clouds and thunder? Yes, when an exquisite beauty dances, when the ornament on her forehead dazzles us and when the sounds of her ankle bells reverberate. Then there is the semblance of flashes of lightning.

The item begins when the sounds of ankle bells are being heard and one is left wondering regarding its origin. And then in a sudden flash the exquisite dancer appears – exuding energy, vibrating with life. Her appearance and her dance are attractive as well as magnetic. One wonders whether she is ethereal or of this world, whether she will continue or suddenly stop.

A series of intricate rhythmic nritta (pure dance) pieces combine with graceful nritya (expressive dance) in this stunning item.


Raag: Arana Film: Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje

And what should be the culminating presentation of Chitra Jhankar, Kathak creations on immortal songs from the silver screen? Obviously, the final song of the film Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje, for this is the film that made Kathak popular amongst the masses.

The ankle bells are reverberating and the rhythm makes the mind dance. The blue sky is swaying to that rhythm and the sleeping earth awakens on hearing the sound.

This lyric, set to Raag Arana and Tritaal, forms the base for a variety of nritta or pure dance compositions. We have parans, tihais, gintis, laris, natwari bols, sawal jawab and a tarana – all abstract dance presentations replete with fast footwork, pirouettes, complex and intricate rhythmic compositions and dynamic movements of the limbs. The item ends with a feast of pirouettes or chakkars and fast footwork or tatkar.

Choreography: Amita Dutt, Uday Shankar Professor & Head of the Department of Dance, Rabindra Bharati University.

Music: Chandrachur Bhattacharya.

Dancers: Senior students of Amita Dutt &
Amita Dutt



Concept and Choreography: Amita Dutt

Music: Chandrachur and Tarit Bhattacharya.

Lights: Binoy Bhattacharya.

Joyodhwani is a joyous celebration of and tribute to the cultural heritage of Calcutta where different influences have come and have been assimilated and where several great poets and musicians have enriched our unique Sanskriti with their contribution.

The Dance Presentations

Bande Mataram: In keeping with the tradition of Classical dance, Joyodhwani begins with a hymn. And the prayer is written by the great son of Bengal Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay and is dedicated to the deity that inspired, not only Kolkatans, but also all Indians, to fight for and achieve independence. Bande Mataram follows the melody composed by Rabindra Nath Tagore, another great Kolkatan.

Dola Lagilo Dakhinar Boney Boney: A celebration of the spirit of resurgence in Kolkata and Bengal comes on the wings of the lyric Dola Lagilo Dakhinar Boney Boney by Kaji Nazrul Islam.

Orey Neel Jamunar Jal: The kirtan style of singing has always been popular in Kolkata and according to Tagore, this was much more in vogue than the kheyal or dhrupad style. The Brojo Madhuri Sangha formed by a group of cultured educated ladies in the second quarter of the last century popularized this style even more. Celebrating this style we present Nazrul’s famous song Orey Neel Jamunar Jal.

The Blue Danube: This famous waltz is as much a part of Calcutta’s culture as the ice cream and western clothes. How can we not pay our tribute to this famous melody?

Nupura Beje Jai Rini Rini: With Tagore’s Birth Centenary began a craze for dancing to Tagore’s songs. The universal ubiquitous sound of the ankle bells that reverberate everywhere in nature and in human life is celebrated.

Rim Jhim Ghana Ghana Re: Who can stay calm during the season of vibrant and torrential rains? Tagore’s song is brought alive in this presentation.

Esho Shyamala Sundara: Not through the words but through the melody of the song played on the sitar in the format of the classical Desh Raaga presentation we pay our tribute to both Tagore and the recently lost Vilayat Khan Sahib.

Baaje Go Beena: Salil Choudhury’s immortal composition is used as the vehicle for our tribute to him.

Jhanak Jhanak Payel Baaje: Kolkata has been the home of Kathak since the time Wajid Ali Shah came with his retinue of dancers and musicians to the city. And Gopi Krishna the hero of the film Jhanak Jhanak Payel Baaje is still bright in the memories of all of us. We pay our tribute to the dance style and the exponent through a new choreography on the song Jhanak Jhanak Payel Baaje.

Dol theke Durgotsav goes the popular saying that refers to the major festivals and joyous events of Kolkata. We close our performance with an item on Dol (Holi) anchored on the Nazrul song Brojo Gopi Khele Holi and on Durga based on the Durga Japa Mantra Namaste Sharanye.


Nazrul Nana Range

Concept & Choreography: Amita Dutt,
Uday Shankar Professor,
Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts,
Rabindra Bharati University,

Music: Chandrachur & Tarit Bhattacharya.

Dancers: Sayoni Nanda, Kankana Bhattacharya, Amitava Datta,
Mou Datta, Sanjukta Datta, Oindrila Das, Paromita Bhattacharya &
Amita Dutt.

Lights: Binoy Bhattacharya.

The towering genius of Rabindranath Tagore had to a large extent overshadowed the fame of the great lyricist Kaji Nazrul Islam. Popularly known as the ‘rebel poet’ (vidrohi kobi), Nazrul’s vast body of romantic lyrics had to a large extent gone unrecognized in his own time.

Amita Dutt, through her choreographic compositions, rediscovers the depth and range of the poet’s caliber. Dance portrayals of selected pieces from Nazrul’s vast body of lyrics enkindle the spark that the poet had intended to light up in the minds of the audience.

The group numbers, with Amita Dutt in the lead, not only highlight different sentiments expressed by the poet, but also portray various representative items from the rich and varied Kathak repertoire. The esoteric classical dance style of Kathak gains in popularity with the haunting melodies of the lyrics and the rhythmic grandeur and varied technique of the dance make the portrayals a superb feat of visual and technical mastery.

The lyrics have been chosen with care so that they can bring before you a wide variety of vocal and dance styles, Raagas (melodies) and Taalas (rhythmic patterns).

Anjali Laho Mor (Raag Pradhan): In keeping with the classical dance tradition, the performance opens with a prayer. In Nazrul’s song the deity is the Almighty, who is offered music instead of flowers and the vibrating human form instead of the flickering flame of the ‘pradeep’. In this group composition, with Amita Dutt in the lead, expression and movements, sentiments and music replace the traditional rituals of worship. Kathak bols and tatkar are artistically blended within the song to give it a classical grandeur.

Mor Ghuma Ghore (Geet): The beautiful lyric in which the borderline between dream and reality ceases to exist portrays the dancer’s interaction with Krishna.

Aadho Aadho Bol (Ghazal): The lover tells his coy, nervous and self-conscious heroine to utter the words ‘I love you’, even if she has to whisper them in half-tones. The words may be difficult to pronounce, but her feeling manifests itself in her appearance, the care with which she adorns herself, and in her gait, expression and her accelerated heartbeat. This exquisite duet presents a feast of sringara rasa and is liberally interspersed with gat nikas.

Prabhata Beena Taba Baajey (Bhakti Geeti): This is a prayer celebrating the beauty of the morning that is resplendent with the beauty of glorious sights and sounds. Rupak taal is delineated in its multifarious representations and images relating to the morning Veena’s manifestations are found in natural objects like the singing of birds and the ripple of water.

Ore Neel Jamunar Jal (Keertan): Krishna is still a living presence in the hearts of his devotees. The nayika (heroine) implores the blue waters of the Yamuna to tell her where she will find Krishna. She has come to Vrindavan with great hopes and can hear the melody of Krishna’s flute and ankle bells. But the trees, the water, the air and even the people are unable to tell her where Krishna is.
The thumri and keertana style of abhinaya is employed and a gat bhava portrays the dream that the devotee is dancing with Krishna.

Brojo Gopi Khele Hori (Kafi Holi Thumri): With Spring comes the festival of Holi. Mankind, inspired by natural hues, throw color at each other. Fun, mischief, laughter and joy accompany this festival in which, legend tells us, even Radha and Krishna used to participate.
The portrayal of Holi is one of the most festive and joyous dance items in Kathak. This item is full of verve and festive joy.

Mahakaler Kole Eshe (Bhakti Geeti): The transformation of the beautiful benign Mother Goddess into the ferocious Kali is explored in the song and the dance. The different manifestations of the goddess are portrayed through facial expression and body language. The item, set to the seven-beat Tivra (Teora) Taal is resplendent with powerful abstract dance.

Srijana Chande Anondey Naacho Nataraja Hey (Saadra): Nataraja is the Artiste Supreme. Yet his dance is associated with frenzy and destruction. The poet implores the great god to perform the dance of creation, full of grace and beauty. Set to Jhamptaal consisting of 10 beats, the lyric provides an apt vehicle for the display of rhythmic virtuosity.
The two styles of dance – tandava and lasya – are intelligently employed to bring out the shrishti and samhar styles of Shiva’s dance. The item is replete with tihais, parans, chakradars and laris.

Dola Lagilo Dakhinar Boney Boney (Dadra): A celebration of the spirit of youth and resurgence that comes with spring when the south wind blows is portrayed here. Dadra taal is explored together with movements associated with swaying and swinging.

Rim Jhim Rim Jhim Jhim (Kaajri): In the tropical region, the coming of the rains, after a season of scorching heat, is an occasion for celebration. The ominous dark clouds, the electrifying lightning and the incessant rains are greeted with jubilation. Women sing in glee and the eternal Radha or devotee in them makes them forget the mundane world as their spirit rises in search of Krishna whose presence is felt everywhere.
This piece is resplendent with the portrayal of the grandeur of the monsoons, the brilliant dance of the peacocks and the swaying in the swings. Intricate parans and footwork add to the grandeur.

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