It was a bold step by the Kerala Department of Information and Publicity to hold a Modern Dance festival at Kozhikode, for unlike the comfort zone of familiarity with classical dance, this unknown field in this part of India is one where even angels would fear to tread. For some unknown reason which even the organisers in the many inaugural speeches confessed to being ignorant of, the festival was called �Saundarya Lahiri!
The group from Samudra based in Thiruvananthapuram led by Madhu Gopinath and Vakkom Sajeev, the main catalysts behind this festival, provided the curtain raiser with their �Cosmic Dance of Siva�. Built round the rhythms of the universe symbolised in the dancing Shiva, Anandatandava manifesting in cyclical energies of creation, destruction, preservation, salvation and illusion, was captured through many scenes.
The start with a powerful formation, the Ardhanariswara representing the complementing contrasts of Yin and Yang integrated in one identity, the alingan sequences, and some of the raw power of what was conceived as a tribal force of the universe, were all rendered by strong dancers � particularly the male half of the troupe.
Where the effect paled was in overstretching the production, the extreme physicality of the dance in the latter stages becoming more a padding for spectacle than purposeful. If editing is the need of the hour, so is the music in need of a more sensitive, soothing, melodic touch.