Anjani Ambegaokar capped the Kathak Dance Festival Saturday at the Anaheim Marriott with more than an hour of splendid dance drama and pure dance--but if not too little, it was certainly too late.
By then a thinning crowd had sat without intermission through three hours of speeches, student performances and a disappointing guest appearance by Sitara Devi. Children were falling asleep, grown-ups were getting glassy-eyed and nobody protested when Ambegaokar cut two dances from her program.
Too bad, because she just scratched the surface of this rich classical Indian dance form. One sequence demonstrated three classical kathak idioms. Ambegaokar's elegant carriage and smooth gliding motions graced the slow measures of thaat . Close collaboration with her musicians fused the dancing, chanting, and drumming of parana/toda/tukra , and she showed commanding technique in the concentrated footwork of tatkar.
"A Dadra-Geet" cast Ambegaokar as a woman separated from her lover by a violent rainstorm. Her vivid gestures established needles of rain and the rapid swelling of the river, as formal facial expressions depicted devotion, longing, fear, despair and joy within the framework of classical sentiments.