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Yearwise Summary of Items and Productions

"Toota Yeh Vishwas Kyon?" - psychological trauma of a mother Based on a real-life story, the ballet "Toota Yeh Vishwas Kyon" tries to uncover the psychological entanglements, which confront the daughter (the victim) and her mother. The mother, fearing social ostracism, is caught in a web of her own insecurities and weaknesses and is unable to give immediate recourse to her daughter. The dance centers around the mother's love, anguish and questions the hypocrisy of society, which stigmatizes the victim and lets the man go scot-free. By the time she overcomes her own shattered mind, and calls for her daughter, the innocent child has given up her life. Conceptualised by Shovana, the script was written by Mr. Rajendra Awasthi.

"The Temptation of Vivekanand" ( in collaboration with Prof Ramchandra Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) Based on Swami Vivekananda's experience at Kshir Bhavani & Amarnath, the dance enactment authored by eminent philosopher, late Prof Ramchandra Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is a beautiful exploration of man's inner insecurities that exhibit themselves in discrimination.


(The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 7/Conversations And Dialogues/IV)

Excerpts from the dance enactment: "Tell me why Bhavani has permitted all this?? A voice tempts me to deny her -----" Vivekanand hears the voice of Devi who says: "If I have let my images and temples be destroyed, what is it to you?.... Do YOU protect me or do I protect you?... The breaker of my images did not recognize my 'formlessness' in my 'forms'; but you have failed to recognize me in so many of my children...."

"Anuttar" 'Anuttar' was about lives we read about, mythological figures that we emulate and worship, yet we fail to see the other side of the episode/incident? In this journey, the 'analytical and introspective' Shovana revealing her Physics aspect of her persona surfaces with emotional grace of her dancer persona, opening the door to hidden facets and unrevealed aspects.

Episodes from the life of Lord Shiva have been successfully related to modern life and its complex relationships and modern thinking. Questions were raised on few episodes such as:

The beautiful feeling of love can however lead to possessiveness so much so that suspicion of betrayal arouses in man, an irrational temper leading to illogical and heinous action.

The Devi has been worshipped as Kali or Durga and her protection has been invoked by mankind. But who protects the Devi?

Lord Shiva has been worshipped as 'Neelakantha'and 'Ardhanareshwar'. But who protects his 'lesser' children and the eunuchs?

"Raah de Radhe" - on the works of women saints of India Almost two decades before the world of performing arts turned their attention to the women saint poets of India, Shovana Narayan, yet again proved to be a visionary and trendsetter. In 1995 she attempted successfully to draw the median line between the experiences of 11 women saint poets of India. They were Akka Mahadevi, Avaiyar, Dasimaiya, Andal, Bahinabai, Muktabai, Sati Toral-Jesal, Gangasati, Sahjodasi, Mirabai and Lal Ded. While their acceptance as women saint poets came centuries later, yet it came early for their male counterparts. It was the first time that Shovana drew attention to these women saint poets who have, by and large, remained regional.

How could the pearls of wisdom of these 11 women saint poets be put together in an evening? It was a tall order but Shovana sailed through, innovatively and successfully. Threading common features and experiences of all these women through the 'vaks' or pearls of wisdom that fell from their lips that reflected (a) their rebellion against male domination (b) fighting for their voice and freedom of expression through their behaviour and manner of dealing with society (c) raising their voice against caste and gender discrimination to name a few, a compelling storyline emerged.

"The Unmasking of Death": An exploration of the Enlightenment of Ramana Maharshi in collaboration with Prof Ramchandra Gandhi Set in 3 parts, the first 2 parts explores how Ramana Maharshi, as a young 16 year old lad, Venkataraman, encountered death (Yama) that led to the revelation of what the body, mind and matter is all about. The third part recounts stories and other experiences of Ramana Maharshi.

"Mera Safar" - ( by Ali Sardar Jafri )

With "Mera Safar", Shovana commenced her journey at a philosophical level, delving into the philosophy and metaphysical questions on life. The choreography is based on the poem of Ali Sardar Jafri who although despairs in the thought of old age and death, but returns to an optimistic tone, while asserting his return in the varied forms of nature. Shovana has interpreted this poetry from a dancer's perspective who realizes the onset of old age but sees in her disciples, the carriers of her art and effectively a medium, which would make her eternal.

Mohan & Rambha (1994): Synopsis of Mohan & Rambha:

For the first time ever in the history of Indian classical dance, the subject of Mahatma Gandhi and his thoughts were boldly taken up for enactment. With this play, the genre of dance enactments in English as a medium was boldly introduced. This in years later, were followed by several classical dancers.

"Rhythm & Schmooze" (1994) with American Tap Dancer Jane Goldberg It was in February 1994 that a unique partnership occurred with eminent American Tap dancer Janet Goldberg in an evening called Rhythm & Schmooze. In both, Tap and Kathak, footwork in various rhythmic permutations are key elements. If it is the bare feet of the Kathak dancer with the tapping of the sole of the feet highlighted by two hundred bells on each ankle that speaks, cajoles, dances out various emotions, in Tap, it is the special shoes with the metal tap on the heels and toes that becomes the percussion instrument. Both forms are innovative and fast paced.

The 'jugalbandi' of the two artistes highlighted similarities and high points of the two forms. If rhythm tap and time-steps of Jane's Tap exhibited the shuffle, the paddle roll, the single and double toe punches, Shovana's Kathak explored and laid out the rich canvas of 'ladis', 'tihai's 'tatakar' in various jatis of tisra, catusra, khand and misra.

In one sequence, Shovana exhibited how a love story could be told by just the various accents, slides and shuffles of the feet. Here was the shy gait of the lady love and there that of the confident youth; the exploratory coquetry between the two with slides and shuffles; the meeting; the lover's quarrel with both stomping away from each other and the final explosive meeting of the two in unison. With stage lights only highlighting movement of the feet, the pair of feet became lovers incarnate!

"Khwahishein" - on the coming alive of a damsel in poster and her aspirations. This was based inspired by The Street Dancer of Sadhona Bose.

In the dead of night, the damsel in the poster comes alive. Stepping out she introspects her life. The woman is like a flower – revered if placed in a garland and offered to the Lord but the opposite if she adorns the wrists of the paramour visiting the boudoir! How she would like to dance at the feet of the Lord. Instead she is the object of comments and various glances by every passer-by. The night passes and as dawn breaks, she is back to being the 'poster girl'.

"Panchhi : Khag Udte Rehna Jeevan Bhar"on a poem by Neeraj (8th Yuva Mahotsava of Sahitya Kala Parishad, February 1993, Sapru House) Keeping in mind the nature of the Youth Festival, Shovana appropriately honed in a poem "Panchhi : Khag Udte Rehna Jeevan Bhar" by the famous literary giant, Neeraj. In this poetry the bird is symbolic of the journey through life and the obstacles that come in the way.

"Moonlight Impressionism" with German Pianist Herman Sausen (1993) Music and love transcends all barriers."Moonlight Impressionism" is one of those unique experiments of the famous dancer-choreographer, Shovana Narayan, which sought to bring together Western classical music (Debussy's Et la lune & Clair de lune and Ravel's Ondine) played on the piano by Herman Sausen and Indian classical music through an exquisite Indian folk legend essaying the unrequited love of the night flower, Harsingar, for the moon, painted in the tradition of Kathak.

The 'thaat' and 'aamad' elements of Kathak dance were used to highlight the mood and expression performed to Western Classical music pieces. Through the vibrancy of Indian percussions and vigorous 'parans' and 'chakkardar toras', Indian classical music denoted the mood of the fiery sun. In order to highlight the stillness of the night and to hear the gentle notes of the piano, the dancers did not adorn 'ghughuroos' so characteristic of Indian classical dance.

"The Sadhu and The Sage": an exploration of an incident in the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa in collaboration with Prof Ramchandra Gandhi This dance play deals with the conflict between a sadhu's religious seclusion and Paramhansa's self-realization.

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