AS part of the commemoration of 50 years, the Government Museum and Art Gallery in Chandigarh is celebrating its Indian miniature painting collection with a unique event, where Saumya Shukla (pictured), an exponent of Kathak, will present the close connection between miniature painting and Kathak through her performance.
Chandigarh-based Shukla began her training under the guidance of Nrityashri Alaknanda, a disciple of Guru Munna Lal Shukla and Pandit Birju Maharaj. “It is a privilege to be back in my hometown and be part of the special event that celebrates art, dance and this museum,” says Shukla, who is a senior dancer in Alaknanda’s dance troupe, Alaknanda Sanskriti.
Shukla began learning dance at the age of nine, and since then, says the dancer, has been observing to see how fine arts and dance can inspire and influence each other. “We all can see the various dance mudras in temple sculptures across India. It was my guru, who encouraged and inspired me to look at them and understand paintings associated with dance. She’d ask me to visit museums and exhibitions, and with time, I began finding a reflection of myself and my dance in fine arts,” says Shukla. It was a seminar on art and sculptures in Indian classical dance at the ‘Spirit of Dance’ festival that made Shukla think of the new project on exploring Indian miniatures and Kathak.
Shukla says that it took extensive research and study of the exquisite miniature painting section of the Museum here to give form to her concept. “The jhoola, in the paintings depicting monsoons became an inspiration for a piece that I will perform. The artwork depicts the lines in a music piece I had learnt. Similarly, the love story of Radha-Krishna celebrating the monsoon surrounded by peacocks and dark clouds, is another work that I have based my dance on,” says Shukla. The collection at the museum, adds the dancer, is so vast and that this is just a small beginning of this exploration. She hopes to travel with the production across the country, and also explore sculptures for another project.
Shukla says that paintings depicting Lord Krishna in various forms will also find place in her performance, and also in associating artwork with certain music pieces she loves. There is Ardhnarishwar, the form of Shiva in which he is half man and half woman and armed with the power of both, shringar rasa, showing Radha-Krishna playing Holi in Vrindavan, scenes of the Mughal court with dancers, musicians and onlookers among others are the other paintings that Shukla has based her dance on. “Like the journey of Kathak, the many layers of these paintings are fascinating and I hope we can appreciate both,” says Shukla. Saumya Shukla will perform on December 22 at 5 pm the Museum Auditorium, Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh.