Young participants of the workshop. Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
Rachel Perris in her element. Photo: Ridwan Adid Rupon
Nrityanchal organised a weeklong (January 17-23) Gaudiya dance workshop with solo dance recital and demonstration by the lone Gaudiya dancer of Bangladesh, Rachel Priyanka Perris. The performance was held at Studio Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shipakala Academy on January 23. Rachel's solo Gaudiya dance pieces were directed by her guru Dr. Mahua Mukherjee, present dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, India. With the event, Nrityanchal re-launched its bimonthly dance programme.
Gaudiya, a classical dance form of Bengal, is an exciting blend of mythology, music and dance that Dr. Mahua Mukherjee revived with her 30-years of artistic perseverance. Back in 2004, Nrityanchal arranged the first Gaudiya dance workshop, conducted by Professor Mahua Mukherjee. Rachel Perris conducted the workshop for this year. The gifted dancer directed four demonstrative performances by the 80 workshop participants categorised in four groups. The presentations entailed Gaudiya dance genres including anga shadhona, nrityanga, nati rangana, madhura and bishak chauk chal.
Rachel, with 10 workshop participants of Nrityanchal, set off the event with an alapchari. Based on Raga “Mishra Bilawal”, the piece was set on jhaptaal and portrayed Raasleela circling the connotations of Krishna. Presentation of an alapchari nritya (pure dance) was followed by the artiste.
Rachel's graceful gestures and devotional expressions sparked like myriad pearls while she performed Kali Statra. The dance piece superbly revolved around a devotional song eulogising Devi Kali with lyrical excerpts that began with 34 consonant letters of Bengali alphabet.
Mingling the myth of Prakriti and Purusha with the unique choreography of Gaudiya dance, Rachel showcased another solo piece titled “Ardha-Nariswar” that won many hearts. Depicting the grace and glamour of Gaudiya Nritya, the artiste immersed in speedy yet immaculate throwing of mudra, expressions and emotion while acting out Rakkhushi Putona, who falls dead to kill Krishna with order from Kangsa. Her next offering was dasha nritya where the artiste poured all passion to portray her virtuous dancing self and devotional soul.
Five female artistes of Nrityanchal danced to a Tagore song “Nabobashonto” while another group dance by 11 artistes was performed with the Tagore song “Pinakete Lagey Tongkar”. Both the pieces were choreographed in Gaudiya style.
At the beginning of the event, directors of Nrityanchal Shibli Mohammad and Shameem Ara Nipa addressed the audience. Shameem Ara Nipa, who emceed the entire event, said, “Rachel has an artistic body language that superbly goes with the essence of Gaudiya Nritya.” Coordinator of Nrityanchal and noted media personality Muhammad Jahangir delivered vote of thanks.
An ICCR-scholar, Rachel initially completed both Honours and Masters in Bharatnatyam and is currently doing her M. Phil in Gaudiya dance under the supervision of Dr. Mahua Mukherjee. Rachel dreams of establishing the Gaudiya Dance in Bangladesh.