Kathak is a classical Indian dance form. It is based on two words – Katha – which means story and – Kathaka – the one who tells a story. Hence, Kathak involves telling a story through dance without the use of words. On the other hand, Flamenco is a Spanish dance form.
Normally, a layman would consider the two arts forms poles apart. But Kathak performer Aditi Bhagwat and Flamenco artist Kunal Om revealed the similarities between the two dance forms not just verbally but through an awe-inspiring collaborative performance in the show Flamenco-Kathaa. The show was recently performed at the Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai.
The roots of Flamenco can be traced to the gypsies in Rajasthan. They traveled to various countries like Romania, Egypt and Hungary before finally settling in Spain, where they developed the art further. It is performed on a wooden board since the performer uses his strong shoes almost like musical instruments.
Among the few similarities between Flamenco and Kathak is that they both contain 12 beats.
To put it simply, Aditi and Kunal created an electrifying effect through their respective acts and co-ordination. It was not jugalbandi in actual sense. It was more like complementing each other. There were regular moments where the audience was forced to applaud. Kunal creating music out of shoes is hard to believe, especially if you are watching it for the first time.
There are chances of dance performances not being gripping enough after a point. But that is avoided here through the sequence and types of performances. The support of the rest of the artists – Aditya Kudtarkar on the Cajon, Tanay Rege on the Tabla, Shruti Bhave on the Violin and Anubhav Suman as the vocalist – and their brilliant solo performances cannot be ignored.
The vocalist’s rendition of ‘Tu Hi Tu’ from Dil Se (1998) deserves mention; also because one doesn’t expect a popular Hindi film number in such shows. It came as a pleasant surprise.
Every performance ought to have the best moment. Over here, in my opinion, was the Mahabhrata Kathak act on the incident of Draupadi’s disrobing and Lord Krishna arriving in time to save her.
Bhagwat played various characters from the Mahabharata with amazing ease and did justice to all. She convincingly narrates the story without saying a word.
Overall, Flamenco-Kathaa is an entertaining dance show that gives you a tremendous kick, even if you happen to be a layman like me.
By: Keyur Seta