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FIRE & FLAIR

FIRE & FLAIR
Highlights

Russia, the land where among the performing arts, ballet has attained a marvelous degree of perfection in Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky and Nureyev, also had...

Ania Kovaleva performing KathakRussia, the land where among the performing arts, ballet has attained a marvelous degree of perfection in Anna Pavlova, Nijinsky and Nureyev, also had great painters like Serov, Chagall and Malevich. Russians have had an affinity with India since a long time as illustrated by the great painter Svetoslav Roerich who settled down in India. Cultural ties have always been strong, with Indian culture being sought after and highly appreciated and classical dance teachers from India are well regarded and diligence is a hallmark of their Russian students.

Ania Konaleva, a Kathak dance student from Russia dabbles in paintings and is equally conscientious in both the art forms. Figurative work in realism is quite difficult as three dimensional objects are sought to be reproduced in two dimensions. Dedication, concentration and hard work are required to master this skill.

Watercolours, Ania’s chosen field need a deft and sure hand as unlike oil paintings, they cannot be corrected. Years of study with distinguished art teachers, imbibing knowledge from the environment of ateliers, colleagues, surroundings, along with a touch of genius – have all come together in full measure in the making of an artist and the evolving of a distinct style. The technical requirements of brushes, palette and colour chemistry also have to be acquired. Ania’s works reflect all these aspects admirably. 28-year-old Ania studied in Moscow and is a graduate in the fine Arts. Having tried her hand in etchings in the style of the German master Albrecht Durer, she has chosen to work mostly in watercolours. Landscapes, still life, architecture and portraits are her subjects. All these genres are well represented in her portfolio. The elusive beauty of everyday scenes, which we ordinarily would not appreciate, is invested with the charm captured by her artistic vision, distilling it for us permanently in an enduring form. It is a joy to watch her fast brushwork swiftly transforming blank paper into a picture of startling originality. Calm, elegant and tranquil by nature, Ania believes in letting her art speak. One of her best portraits is of her Guru Raghav Raj Bhatt’s aged Mother. Ania is a gifted cartoonist too.

While in Russia, she wised to learn classical ballet, but was not able to take it up as her hometown, Ryazan, did not have a ballet dance academy. She saw a Kathak performance and was instantly attracted to this North Indian classical dance style. She decided to learn Kathak and it was to be the start of a long and fascinating journey in dance, which would eventually bring her to India. Her slender, poised figure suited this delicate, yet fast dance form. The "chukkars" or whirls of Kathak do sometimes resemble the pirouettes of Ballet. Both these dance forms possess supreme grace of manner and a refined elegance in costume. After initial training, she started to groom under renowned Kathak Guru Raghav Raj Bhatt for a period of two years, during which, she gave several programs along with her Guru and several other students, gradually perfecting her mastery of the art. She then obtained a scholarship from ICCR to pursue an advanced course in Kathak under Guru Mangala Bhatt in Hyderabad.

Studying Kathak with single minded concentration was reflected in dedicated practice for several hours a day. Her devotion to dance won her the kudos of her Gurus. The intricate "bols" have to be recited for the orchestra to follow, which is no mean feat, as they are usually extempore depending on the mood and inspiration of the artiste. Her stamina, displayed in an incredible number of chukkars - her favourite part of the dance - has to be seen to be believed. She also attempted choreography in both traditional and fusion items with the encouragement of her Gurus. She produced various innovative items presented to the admiration and applause from the audience.

Exquisite abhinaya marked her portrayal of angry Radha bereft of Krishna during one of her performances at CCRT, her scintillating improvisation came across as she presented the element ‘Fire’ in a modernistic item at Lamakaan. Design for her is another achievement with her advantage of the painters vision to create beautiful and aesthetically pleasing costumes. In Hyderabad , she performed at Lamakaan, Saptaparni and Ravindra Bharathi and also participated in group programs in Vizag and Tirupathi. The other facets of dancer and painter, Ania include photography. She likes to have birds as pets, to keep her company; her favourite being a white Cockatiel. It is high time she did a solo recital and also an exhibition of her water colours.

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