Germany-based Bharatnatyam duo of Shebana Devi Mangold and Johanna Devi shares the passion for Indian dance and more
Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari S. D. Sharma
"I enjoy the double delight of modern western ballets and music and the profundity of Indian classical dances," says Johanna Devi, the other Bhartnatyam danseuse from Berlin. Like Shebana, she, too, fell in love with Indian dance at the age of six, after her parents were completely enamoured by Bharatnatyam during their visit to South India, and she, with a view to cherish their desire, decided to make it her calling. She learnt the rudiments of Bhartanayam from Aprajita Koch at Munich, and later under guru Savitri J. Rao at Kalakshetra in India, the USA and Canada and performed her ‘aranegtram" at Berlin in 2006 under Rajyashree Ramesh. Besides, Johanna completed her modern dance training and learnt classical western music (piano).
Like Shebana, she too has over 200 performances of Bhartnatyam at top venues to her credit, out of which two were in India during the Second International Dance Festival-2011.
"My next production titled "Santosham" will be my tribute to the magnificence of Indian classical dance, the complete musical art with poetry, music and drama," says Johanna.
But both the accomplished danseuses observe that their dancing prowess and excellence in the art can best be judged by the Indian audience and performing in India for them is like participation in the Olympics.
On the language problem, as also the dance compositions mostly weaved around the mythological themes, the dancers find no problem in singing fluent sargams or pedant despite Johanna knowing five words, including ‘dil’ in Hindi and Shebana knowing a bit of Tamil.
"The music and rhythm has an universal language and our gurus explain the lyrical intent of the poetry, which we portray through dance mudras and we can easily relate to their significance," say the maestros. "Indian music is sublime in nature and emotions lie at the heart of every classical bandish in Braj Bhasha, which exude spirituality, moral virtues and divine love, all uplifting the mind and soul to ecstatic levels.
The suffix ‘Devi’, added to our original names by our revered gurus, is indeed a blessing for us, which we will cherish always," say the Berlin-based dancers.