A decade ago, if you had mentioned lavani to Bhushan Korgaonkar, he’d have cringed. “I thought it was vulgar and cheap and [being a Maharashtrian] not something to be proud of,” he said. But a performance by the veteran dancer Maya Kutegaonkar changed his opinion. “I realised that there is a lot more to the dance,” he said. Aspects such as the “in-your-face attitude” and the “graceful and strong persona of the dancer” appealed to him. Korgaonkar closely started following the scene and befriended the dancers and musicians. Today, the 34-year-old accountant at The Times of India has become an enthusiast of lavani for more than just its camp dimension, and is also working on a book on Pune-based dancer Mohana Mahalangrekar. This fortnight, he will bring Mahalangrekar and other lavani dancers – young and old, male and female – together in “Mi Kat Takli” (I Shed my Skin), a show presented by the non-governmental organization Mahila Vikas Kendra.
The first part of the show features female artists from the sangeetbari tradition, whose practitioners are tied to theatres located in ruralMaharashtra. They mostly perform seated (called baithakichi lavani) and present old, forgotten pieces in which the emphasis is on the emotive aspect of the dance. The second part covers the present-day tendency towards faster, more film-influenced numbers. This time around, the lavani will be performed standing (khadi) and will feature Anil Hankare and Anand Satam, members from the all-male troupe Bin Baykancha Tamasha.There will also be a lecture on lavani “as a channel of women’s expression” by directors N Chandra and Satish Rajwade, writer Urmila Pawar and actress Sonali Kulkarni.
Audiences will not just witness two styles but also the changes that have emerged in the folk dance over the years. Traditional dancers prefer minimal make-up and a simple get-up. The dance itself is more subtle compared to the more vigourous moves practised by the current crop, which is also more fashionable, innovating with hair styles and costumes. Ironically, the old guard will perform to more sexually explicit songs, while the younger ones will go for more suggestive numbers.
Audiences will get to see over 20 routines, mostly solos. Some of the songs will be new even for Maharashtrian audiences, said Korgaonkar. Actress Veena Jamkar will be the compère, explaining the significance of the words and giving a historical background to the songs. The show also offers women an opportunity to watch lavani at ease, given that it’s usually men who patronise the art form. And yes, whistling and screaming are allowed.
“Sukumar Gulabachya Fula”
“Tujhe Re Naahi Honaar Kalyaan”
“Majhya Navryaane Sodaliya Daru”
“Dole Tumche Jaadugiri”
“Lageen Majhe Tharlay Maage Lagu Naka”
By Suhani Singh on June 08 2012 11.31am
Photos by Amey Gharat, Kunal Vijayakar