Triwat dance company
(The Music Room)
A Kathak-based ballet produced by master Girdhari Maharaj in Jaipur, Jalsaghar aimed at recreating the atmosphere of the music rooms where the courtesans (“tawaifs”) used to perform at the time of the Nawabs (Mughal aristocrats) and the Maharajas.
Thanks to this performance, the audience got to rediscover, for the first time in India, a tradition that had never been presented to the general public, and was on the verge of disappearing after the music rooms (“jalsaghar”) had ceased to exist. The dance and music the artists used to practice in those music rooms was extremely refined and elaborate. The atmosphere, steeped in aristocratic grandeur, was meant to be one of seduction, through music and dance.
The Maharajas and a privileged male élite used to visit the courtesans whose singing and dancing (tradition of the mujra, a dance accompanied by a song) they took great pleasure in, to the extent that they would sometimes entrust the performers with the task of teaching their own sons about social manners and etiquette. This delicate art of mujra, which used to be passed on from mother to daughter, is about to disappear, as a consequence of the competition represented by the Bollywood industry and imported prostitution networks (Bombay, Bangalore, Dubai, etc.).
The show entitled Jalsaghar (“The Music Room”) recreates all the aspects and nuances of this refined art, giving each spectator the impression that he is the only object of the courtesan's attentions. The way she greets the spectactor, the way she moves, gazes and sings all contribute toward enticing the audience, leaving nobody indifferent.The music, with its both melancholic and joyful poetical undertones, alternates Ghazal songs, in Urdu, and Mand love songs, in Rajasthani. It is accompanied by immensely skillful musicians. Combined with the dancing, based on Kathak and enhanced over time by this art which was still thriving, as well as with the costumes and a scenery that is the exact replica of an original music room, the music makes this show a unique performance, one that takes the spectactor back to the atmosphere of a jalsaghar from bygone days.
Composition of group
- dancers: 4 female dancers, 1 male dancer
- 4 musicians: 1 tabla player, 1 harmonium player, 1 sarangi player, 1 pakhawaj playe
- 1 female singer of authentic mujra tradition
(Gathering to entertain)
The word “Mehfil” originally refers to a performance of Indian music. The band is made up of 5 musicians and dancers, who all come from a North Indian family of artists. Kamal Kant, the artistic director and a dancer, as well as Kaushal Kant, a tabla player, are the sons and pupils of the great master Girdhari Maharaj, of the Jaipur Gharana (school). The other dancers, Megha Panwar and Ajay Rathore, as well as the singer and harmonium player Ramesh Meena, also are members of this great artistic family in their own right, having been trained by Girdhari Maharaj. The group was founded by Kamal Kant, who wished to gather his whole family in an artistic project involving the dance and the music he inherited from his ancestors.
The family used to perform in aristocratic houses and the palaces of Maharajas and the privilege to attend such a performance was reserved to the élite. The magic of the music and the skills exercised by the dancers were all the better appreciated in the cosy surroundings the performance took place in. Nowadays, the aim of the band is to make this traditional art available to the general public. Mehfil's strength stems from the rhythmical exchange that takes place between the musicians and the dancers and contributes to drawing the audience into the performance. The spectactor becomes actor,thus increasing the pleasure of the performance.
In an intimate atmosphere, Mehfil will introduce you to a sacred form of dance inspired by Indian mythology, to the rhythms of Kathak dance (from which flamenco is derived), to the Khyal art of singing, and to Sufi poetry. Dance is an essential element of the performance and involves both a technical aspect which requires great virtuosity, and a narrative part: through his/her gestures, the dancer enacts episodes from mythological texts, and mimes various emotions and feelings. The music and the dancing alternate and complete one another, giving the performance its character and energy, as it blends dance, music, singing and percussions.
Composition of group
- 2 dancers
- 3 musicians : 1 tabla player, 1 harmonium player, 1 sitar player