Rajasthan Utsav: Gayathri Sharma, Bhadra Sinha impress with innovative Bharatanatyam production ‘Samanvita’
‘Samanvita’ brings forth the age-old wisdom of gender equality through the Ardhanarishwara philosophy, of Shiva giving his left half to Shakti, showing us her rightful place as his equal
As part of the Rajasthan Utsav celebrations at Bikaner House in Delhi, the artists of Kalakriti Arts, Gayathri Sharma and Bhadra Sinha, recently presented ‘Samanvita’—a special Bharatanatyam dance production. The artists also presented Mahakavi Vidyapati’s well known Maithili poem ‘Jaya Jaya Sankar’ using Bharatanatyam choreography.
“The pandemic upended lives of everyone, including artists who thrive on live performances. Online platforms provided a succor, but could not replace the aura of a live performance, the exchange of energy experienced between an artist and the audience when the former is on stage. So it was indeed thrilling to perform for a live audience again,” rejoices Sharma. She adds, “It is true that when a dancer performs, he or she should not bother about who and how many watch her/him. But more than a visual treat, live dance is all about soaking vibrations as well because dance is another form of spiritual journey.”
‘Samanvita’ brings forth the age-old wisdom of gender equality through the Ardhanarishwara philosophy, of Shiva giving his left half to Shakti, showing us her rightful place as his equal. “Samanvita is a subject very close to our heart; it germinated in 2020 when we learnt the Ardhanarishwara stotram from Guru V Krishnamoorthi for our performance at the Khajuraho Dance Festival. We were fascinated and delved deeper into the philosophy and had several discussions with our guru and the exploration began,” reveals Sharma.
The presentation used a mix of contemporary poetry and signature dance pieces in Bharatanatyam style depicting Devi and Shiva, culminating with Adi Shankaracharya’s ‘Ardhanarishwara Stotram’. When Shiva opens his third eye and burns Kamdev to ashes for disturbing his penance, Shakti calms him down and makes him see reason to restore Kamdev’s life. And when Shakti is angered beyond control and takes the ferocious form of Kali to slay Mahishasura, Shiva lays down at her feet to calm her.
So, the artists showcased how Shiva and Shakti together form the balance of power and are ultimately one and the same. Sharma explains, “We found Ardhanarishwara so closely linked to our lives and the beauty about this mystical form of Shiva-Shakti is that it is relatable in so many aspects. So, it defies one particular definition and allows you to go as far as you can with your interpretation”. She further adds, “As women of today, we perceived Ardhanarishwara to be an embodiment of gender equality at all levels, from cosmic creation, equity in society to personal living. We see Ardhanarishwara as a symbol of harmony where two energies meet to maintain equilibrium which brings universal and eternal equanimity.”
Gayathri Sharma and Bhadra Sinha took this thought further and interspersed classical dance with English poetry to take their interpretation to the audiences. “We collaborated with our friend Sonali Primlani who understood what we wanted to convey through this production and penned the lines to describe the two forces and their amalgamation. We later added the Maithili poet Mahakavi Vidyapati’s poem to the mix, and that is how Samanvita took birth,” sums up Sharma.