Tagore’s Tasher Desh in English

Nandanik Dance Academy Renders

By Kaushik Mitra, Moon Township, PA

On April 21st, 2012, Nandanik Dance Academy presented the dance drama Tasher Desh or “Card Country” — one of the more difficult dance dramas of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The venue was the Chartiers Valley Intermediate School Auditorium.

With a captivating collaborative presentation, Nidrita Mitra Sinha and Mary Miller, perfectionists by their own right, set the tone for the evening.

Tasher Desh started with a blaze. A prince and his friend – a merchant – set out onto the open seas. Hit by a tempest, shipwrecked, they are cast ashore onto a strange land – the land of cards. The inhabitants are stiff and rigid like cards, and so are the dogmas that hold their society together. What follows is a story of intense internal conflict between the quest for the free mind and the shackles that hold it down.

The performance was brilliant. Sanjib Bhattacharya and Nandini Mandal graced the stage with élan and ease. The coordination was flawless, the energy unbridled. The dia­logues were in Eng­lish to the benefit of a large part of the mostly mainstream audience unfamil­iar with the Bengali language. What un­folded was a mes­merizing journey to a far-off land. The acting was nat­ural, the dancing unflawed. The cho­reography, directed by Nandini Mandal and Sanjib Bhattacharya, was a seamless blend of Bharatanatyam, Chhau, Manipuri and Navanritya styles. The music by Pramita Mullik was fresh and refreshing. Attention to detail oozed – from the colorful and creative costumes, to the props and to the perfection of the youngest of dancers.

So, how does Tasher Desh stack up against past Nandanik produc­tions? It is high up there. We missed the magical use of light we saw in “Shyama” but that perhaps was an inadequacy of the facilities at hand.

Could something have been better? The accent of the English dialogues, possibly. But the shortcomings were trivial. Magic was in the air and it weaved a Card Country in a far off land that we, the audience, felt blessed to trespass as we waited with abated breath for the free mind to emerge victorious – trouncing the shackles that bind it.

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