Transcending Boundaries: Nrityagram and Chitrasena Dance Company’s ‘Ahuti’ Lights Up Bengaluru


This weekend, Bengaluru witnessed a riveting cultural confluence as Bhoomija presented ‘Ahuti’—an exquisite dance choreography that brought together two renowned dance troupes: the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble from India and The Chitrasena Dance Company from Sri Lanka. ‘Ahuti’ is a sensorial offering that marries the elegance of the Indian classical dance form, Odissi, with the vibrancy of Sri Lanka’s Kandyan dance, resulting in a mesmerizing spectacle set to rhythms that bridge two countries.

Masterfully composed by Raghunath Panigrahi, the music of ‘Ahuti’ united the talents of Surupa Sen, Pavithra Reddy, Anoushka Rahman, Rohini Banerjee, and Daquil Miriyala from Nrityagram, with the Sri Lankan prowess of Thaji Dias, Kushan Dharmarathna, and Amandi Gomez. Nrityagram’s artistic director and the mind behind the concept, Surupa Sen, worked closely with associate choreographer Heshma Wignaraja from Chitrasena to blend these distinct dance traditions into a single harmonious performance. Sen, who also displayed her mastery in leading the manjira, performed a captivating rendition of Dhira Samire, a solo piece from the ancient Indian lyrical work, Gita Govinda.

‘Ahuti’ marks the second artistic collaboration between Nrityagram and Chitrasena Dance Company, following the success of their inaugural partnership ‘Samhara’ in 2012. It continues the tradition of combining their respective styles, which have their roots in ritual and temple dance, presenting them not as a fusion but as a respectful convergence of two rich heritages. Eager audiences looking to experience this cultural amalgam filled the seats of Chowdiah Memorial Hall on April 12th at 7:30 pm, securing their entry to a world of rhythmic symbiosis with tickets starting at ₹500.

In the serene setting of Nrityagram in Hesaraghatta, Surupa Sen shared the genesis of this collaboration over a call, recalling over 15 years of friendship and cultural exchange between the two dance schools. It was through this extended period of living together and delving into each other’s dance forms that the idea to work together took root, eventually blossoming into the acclaimed ‘Samhara’. With ‘Ahuti’, Surupa Sen envisioned a choreography allowing both forms to respond spontaneously; the process of creation started with a shared comfort in the artists’ movements, on which the entire performance was built.

Surupa Sen, who is also proficient in Bharatanatyam, expressed a deep affinity for Odissi, a dance form that has captured her heart for over 35 years. She attributed her dedication to preserving the legacies of both her beloved dance form and her guru, Protima Gauri, the founder of Nrityagram. The challenges of sustaining an art-based livelihood have not dampened her resolve; rather, her devotion has been nurtured by the unique environment of Nrityagram, which offers respite from life’s daily pressures and fosters a profound connection with dance.

In keeping with Protima’s vision, Nrityagram continues to offer residential classes for students, integrating them into the ensemble, while also providing free weekend classes for the local community near Hesaraghatta. When questioned about the rarity of Nrityagram performances in Bengaluru, Sen explained that logistics often hamper local showcases – they depend heavily on invitations to perform. Thus, the presentation of ‘Ahuti’ in their home city represented a sentimental full circle for the troupe as they wrapped up their U.S. tour and prepared to present the show in Colombo.

As this dynamic piece of artistic heritage graced the stage, Bengaluru’s appreciation for the arts echoed through the applause, and the flames of cultural reverence were kindled anew through ‘Ahuti’. The bonds of music and dance, transcending geographical borders, affirmed the power of artistic collaboration and illustrated the boundless potential of shared cultural endeavors.

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