Sunday, February 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


February 16, 2003
Dying art forms liven up fest

CM for Taj Hotel in Patiala
February 15, 2003
Patiala heritage fest opens
February 14, 2003
Punjabi ambience for Crafts Mela

Tent city coming up

February 13, 2003
Maharaja’s dream forgotten
February 9, 2003
Heritage Festival to put Patiala on tourist map
P A T I A L A     H E R I T A G E     W E E K

Sonal Mansingh casts a spell
Sukant Deepak

Sonal Mansingh during her maiden performance in Patiala. 

Patiala, February 16
The old courtyard of the Quila Mubarak came alive with ‘Vasant-Vijay’, an improvised dance-drama depicting the Shiva-Parvati tale by the youngest recipient of ‘Padma Bhushan’, Sonal Mansingh and her 17-member dance troupe here late last evening. It portrayed a narrative embodying mythical events and contemporary reactions to another age, so remote yet tangibly present.

With events from the ancient Hindu mythology that incorporated a sense of mind-body inter-relationship, Mansingh introduced the audiences to the tale in which “Kamdev” struck at Shiva but ultimately met his end when the angry God opened his third eye. But the sadness of ‘Kamdev’s’ wife vanished when he (‘Kamdev’) insisted that his death was just temporary as he existed everywhere and was omnipresent. The leading exponent of Odissi mesmerised the audience and introduced them to an improvised dance performance.

The eminent classical dancer, who has made a thorough study of classical dance forms such as bharatanatyam, kathakali, Odissi and chhau, created a magical evening by using the major facets of dance, including ‘Abhinaya’, or stylised mime in which symbolic hand gestures and facial expressions were used to interpret a story or theme. With versatile expressions and symbolic body language conveying anger, resentment, anguish and sympathy, Mansingh, in her ‘omnipresent’ role of the narrator and other characters brought to life a forgotten myth through rich imagery and symbolism. The dancers took care that despite improvisations, they did not deviate from the classical movements and stylised abhinaya.

The eight musicians on the stage contributed immensely in creating a series of appealing visual patterns and transported the audiences to the origins of the Odissi dance form as ritual dances performed in the temples of ancient northern India. Veteran vocalist, Bankim Sethi, through his excellent music, ensured that reflection and reverie triumphed over dramatic action on the stage. The perfect synchronisation between the awe-inspiring music and dance by the troupe lent a smooth rendition to the thematic fabric of the dance-drama.

Managing to create a perfect balance and composition on the stage, through intelligent and appropriate lighting, which merged with the rustic background of the quila and established moods through fantastic colours; the performance subtly and aesthetically, conveyed the message of harmony. Judging by the response of the spellbound audience, Sonal Mansingh and her troupe definitely touched a popular chord during her first ever performance in Patiala.