Bhakti expressed through abhinaya
SANGITA ESWARAN is well known for her commitment to Bharatanatyam. Her recital at the annual Dance and Music Festival of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Kala Pradarsini was pleasing and soothing. Savitri Jagannatha Rao, the teacher, exhibited her involvement (nattuvangam) equally in making the performance of her student successful. Excellent vocal support by Hariprasad, assisted by Ramesh Babu (mridangam) and Vijayaraghavan (violin), offered a sumptuous feast of orchestral accompaniment.
The varnam, in Latangi by the devout poet Andavan Pichi, whose compositions are an exquisite outpour of bhakti, gave sufficient space for Sangita to express her skill in abhinaya. "Nanne Pendladuchumi," the padam, was followed by the well-known "Jagadoddharana," where Sangita gave an absorbing rendition of the different ideas depicting Krishna as the child of Yasoda and as the all-pervasive Supreme.
The easy flow of the sancharis, with a smooth handling of the nuances exhibited in a subtle manner, revealed the young dancer's deep involvement and innate skill for this aspect of dance.
However, avoidance of certain facial contortions that appeared from time to time would have made the presentation still more refined. Similarly, in the area of nritta, Sangita seemed to have totally given up the concept of Arai Mandi (basic posture), the most crucial requisite for every Bharatanatyam artiste.
Also, Sangita focussed on adavu structures that were either mere stretching and movement techniques rather than any serious well-ground execution, probably for creating some novelty.
The art of Bharatanatyam is firm and rigorous set to different sets of adavu varieties, which alone can bring forth the skill of the dancer to reveal her sustained work.
Without them, it only creates a picture of fantasised, flowery approach to Bharatanatyam, leaving hardly any impact on the nritta orientations.
A refreshing recital by Ramya Rajesh, a senior disciple of K. J. Sarasa, was held at the same venue. It is always a pleasure to watch Sarasa (nattuvangam) on the platform, the only woman nattuvanar from the traditional family to do sustained work over the past five decades and more. Sarasa had a very supportive team of orchestra with Girija Ramaswamy (vocal), Srinivasan (violin) and Sankaranarayanan (flute). Dhananjayan (mridangam) rendered skilful accompaniment; but at times, he has to check his non-stop play to pause between beats. Yati Visrama as quoted by Saint Tyagaraja ("Sogasuga Mridanga") applies to the mridangam accompanist for dance also; such pauses and silence make a lot of difference and even help to boost the situation in the dance composition.
Ramya has blossomed into a talented dancer with considerable merit, in both nritta and abhinaya aspects. She exhibited a firm footwork with a neat posture and beauty in stances, typical of the Vazhuvoor Bani.
Ramya has an expressive face to bring in the details of interpretation with noteworthy skill.
"Mamoham" (Nattakurinji), an exquisite varnam of the veteran K. N. Dandayudhapani Pillai, made a lively choice for the evening. Ramya gave an apt portrayal of the devotee the lady in love with the Lord of Tirumala. Ramya made good use of the lyrical content to express her capabilities and explored the varied stages of the devotional love. Her execution of the jatis and the swara patterns came out with vigour and youthful energy. Her handling of the javali, "Sakhi Prana" and the Todi tillana of Maharaja Swati Tirunal were equally lively in the post varnam section.
At the same venue, Roja Kannan, senior dancer, teacher and choreographer, gave a soulful performance based on a lively choice of compositions to keep the audience well under her control. Roja proved again her consummate artistry in the varied aspects Bharatanatyam. Also a versatile singer hailing from a well-known musical lineage, in this context, Roja's attempt to inter-relate dance and music in apt measure was successful.
It was sheer joy watching Roja perform one of the gems of compositions of the famed Thanjavur Quartet. "Sami Ninne Kori" set in ragamalika is as grand as Lord Brihadeeswara Himself who is referred to as the presiding deity in this number, and Roja gave a scintillating performance for this major piece. Her depiction of Satileni Kalyani followed by vibrant nadai and arudi were simply superb synthesis of dance and music.
The earlier jati patterns, executed with neat hasta pada prayogas, with such ease and grace proved to be a visual feast.
Adyar K. Lakshman, the veteran teacher, guided his disciple with excellent expertise. In the latter part of the recital in "Emani Telupudu" (padam), a variety of emotions arising out of the nayika recalling her moments of intimacy with the lover did not find full focus. Sancharis in this regard in apt, subtle measure would have enhanced the beauty of the central mood of the song. The following javali was pleasantly portrayed, although the words of the lyric sung by Hariprasad differed from the normal patantara, thereby not adhering closely to the central mood of the javali. A brilliant, crisp tillana (Madurai N. Krishnan) came as a fitting finale to this enjoyable performance of Roja.
Adyar K. Lakshman was ably assisted by the enriching vocal support of Hariprasad, excellent percussive support of Nellai D. Kannan and the melodious flute of Sai Kumar. Young Bhavani Prasad, the veena artiste, has to work still to learn the nuances of playing for dance and remain like an under current throughout, keeping up the soul of the orchestra. Also, he should avoid giving special effects on the veena and play with a soft, soothing technique.
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