Safe Motherhood Day with Shovana Narayan

Anisha Sharma
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Shovana Narayan, Kathak guru

Watching a Spic-Macay lecture-demonstration by Kathak guru and maestro Shovana Narayan with children of Army public school in Lucknow was a delight :-) She pulled out a leaf from her performances featuring women like Buddha's wife Yashodhara and the Pandav Draupadi.

Sakhi ve mujh se keh kar jaate… was Yashodhara's lament over her husband's decision to renounce the world in favour of search for enlightenment. Yashodhara confides in a friend, 'I wish he had told me of his plans, and not left as he did in the middle of the night…'

Draupadi's plight on being lost in a gambling spree, was again duly brought out by Shovana Narayan as a houseful of school kids sat through the Kathak class with rapt attention, marking every emotion, every gesture, every bhaav that crossed the dancer's face. They had been duly initiated into this North Indian dance form thanks to Shovana, all in the course of a one hour session.

I waited my turn to reach the enigmatic Shovana. And when I did I was as amazed by her dedication to the craft. "Kathak is all about story-tellling," she begins.

Going by my interaction with her through the day, I could resonate with her passion for Kathak. And when I came to know that she was a government servant and managed both feats with equal élan, I thought she was more so amazing.

Shovana is sensitive to problems faced by people around her and portrays the gamut of emotions faced by people in different situations. She picks on Indian mythology for its universal appeal and timeless messages and relates contemporary issues with equal command and grace. Personally I applaud the way she portrays pain with so much dignity, be it Yashodhara, Draupadi, Yashoda…

She highlights women's' issues problems faced by the 'specially abled'.

She is the first dancer to have conceived, conceptualised and brought out a dance video on the philosophy and legend of the immortal Khajuraho temples called 'Dance of the Temples'.

Discovery!

Shovana's keen interest in research have led to the discovery of an ancient 4th century BC Prakrit text (in Asokan Brahmi Script) describing the dance of the Kathaks at Varanasi and also the existence of three Kathak villages near Gaya (Bihar).

She has already authored several books and numerous articles on the subject of dance and is also a visiting lecturer to several Universities in India and abroad. She has also guided research students for award of PhD degree in the field of dance.

There's no stopping for Shovana as she reveals,"I have just completed the translation of Nataraja (from very Sanskritised Hindi to English). It's a monumental book on the evolution and different aspects of Nataraja. I am also in the midst of translating a book on 'Sri Raghunath Mandir' in Jammu and Kashmir."

Safe Motherhood Day 11th April

Come 11th April, 2009, and well find Shovana with her retinue of shishyas performing 'Bhroon ki pukar', portraying a foetus's call for support for Safe Motherhood, in a country where maternal-mortality rates are still a drain. She will be accompanied by Shakeel Ahmed Khan on tabla, Vijay Sharma on sitar and vocalist Madho Prasad. Dancing with her on stage will be talented kathaaks Shivani Salhotra, Jyoti Manral and Seema Malhotra. This performance will be at the PHD Chamber Auditorium, Delhi at 6 in the evening, and all are welcome :-)

Shovana Narayan's schedule this summer includes:

13th - 14th of April - Indore and Bhopal
18th April - Guest appearance at the Chaman Lal Memorial Award Function, Siri Fort
20th to 24th April – Spic Macay programmes in Uttarakhand (Nainital, Bhimtal, Ranikhet…)
29th April - World Dance Day - 2 Spicmacay programmes at Ghaziabad and Noida
3rd May - Ashoka Amphitheatre, Ashok Hotel at 7 pm - Annual day Function of Asavari, the centre of Kathak that Shovana runs (featuring over 50 students).




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