BHRATIYA VIDYA BHAVAN
Styles that set apart forms
THE SECOND year of Nritta Makarandam the annual dance seminar jointly organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Kala Pradarsini was inaugurated by Sonal Mansingh, Chairman, Sangeet Natak Akademi, in the presence of Justice K. S. Bhaktavatsalam, Chairman of the Bhavan. The three-day event, included expositions by senior exponents of different artforms. The event commenced with an auspicious rendering of the Mangala Vadhya, the nagaswaram by Mannargudi Sankaranarayanan and party.
On the opening day, Rhadha presented a lec-dem on the technique of the Vazhuvur tradition. ``Creativity to enrich the beauty of the technique" was the focus of the Veteran Nattuvanar, Vazhuvur Ramiah Pillai, said Rhadha. She chose to depict the striking features of this tradition, which found its best exposition through the legendary Kamala along with her sisters Rhadha and Vasanti; The vibrant look for each Hasta, the graceful flow of each adavu, enhanced with appropriate neck movement, were some of the points explained by Rhadha with suitable demonstration. The opening alarippu, with Rhadha maintaining a firm technique as taught by her veteran teacher brought around memories of the past performances of the Trio. All the lively ingredients of the famed Vazhuvur tradition, were to be seen sincerely preserved, nourished and propagated in true devotion to its creator, without any deviations and innovations in the name of creativity.
Rhadha further demonstrated items of repertoire-Jatiswaramn, Trikala Jati and another well-known Jati of this school. The use of the different adavu patterns, focussing on the aspect of beauty of each Rhadha's own approach in abhinaya to excerpts from Varnams, some well-known Padams, a Viruttam were the other pieces chosen for demonstration.
Rhadha was assisted by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan (talk) and orchestra consisting of A. S. Murali, Preeti Mahesh, Dhananjayan, and Kalai Arasan.
Abhinaya in Mohiniyattom
The second day commenced with an outstanding exposition of Abhinaya in Mohiniyattom by senior artiste Kalamandalam Kshemavati from Kerala. The speaker explained the goal of every dance as aiming at the universalisation (Saadhaaranikarana) of the sentiment reaching the audience, and thereby bring about the Rasasiddhi (culmination of the sentiment). The Chatur vidha (four-fold) abhinaya, classified as Aangika, Vaachika, Aahaarya and Saatvika aspects was explained in general and then pertaining to Mohiniyattom, each to be performed according to its own Dharma. Kshemavati in her simple narration described the salient features of these aspects as employed in the technique of Mohiniyattom.
Examples for Aaharya (costume) aspect as handled in this form, pertaining to the characters were mentioned as existent only in the Kerala dance traditions. The usage of Hastas as per the Hastalakshanadeepika (22 nos.) and further synthesis of hand gestures, and the need for using the mukhaja abhinaya according to each category, to convey with propriety the lyrical message, were described as essential requisites for a thorough abhinaya exploration in this technique. Kshemavati demonstrated the concept, with ``Krishna Nee Ennai Ariyilla" (the devotee who imagines that the Lord did know her and is stuck with mixed emotions when the chariot of Krishna halts at her door), and the Sapta Nayikas (according to the text of K. T. Pisharoti), using the Ashtapadi verses of Poet Jayadeva were all beautifully portrayed by this veteran artist.
However it was the fine depiction of the smooth reversal of roles depicted by Kshemavati, which ought to have been seen by the dancers of Chennai, when she enacted this subtle transformation from the male to female and depicting the action and reaction of the two without moving physically from one place to another; it was all intense, inner journey totally devoid of any dramatic exhibitionism. In one stance and one glance, she brought the entire gamut of emotions and established the roles powerfully; it revealed a whole world of beauty of expression, exquisitely internalised (Saatvika). It is unfortunate that many dancers miss out on such rare artists who visit the metro during the festival.
Following Kshemavati, was Aruna Mohanty, a vibrant Odissi dancer from Bhubaneswar, who made an analysis of the Gotipua and Odissi traditions.
Aruna, senior disciple of Gangadhar Pradhan has been a member of the Odissi Arts Academy since its inception. Fluency in communication and an organised thought process made Aruna's lec-dem very interesting.
Aruna described the Orissa dance traditions as part of the daily ritualistic offering at the temple. She described the technique of the Gotipua dancers (male dancers-pujaris in female costumes) and Maaharis (Devadasis), and said from these, the Odissi format has evolved and been nurtured with further embellishments.
In this connection, Aruna demonstrated pieces from Maahari tradition. The Maaharis also sang along with their dancing. Vijaya Kumar Sahu danced a piece from the Gotipua tradition.
Aruna then traced the similarities and differences between the two systems of dance.
After the demonstration of Batu (Sthayi Nata), a pure dance number in Gotipua tradition by Vijay where he exhibited the different instruments corresponding with the dance format (mardala, flute, and veena) Aruna danced a Mangala Charan in Odissi style.
Aruna described the Pallavi in Gotipua style as employing more use of the body and covering vast space.
The concluding piece was Mokshya, the dance of the joy of liberation as found in the refined style of Odissi.
Leela Venkataraman, senior art critic, offered felicitations to Kshemavati and Aruna.
The third day session included a lec-dem on the aspects of nattuvangam and the inter-relation between music and nattuvangam by senior teacher and nattuvangam expert Adyar K. Lakshman.
This was followed by a very impressive Lecture demonstration by Sharodi Saikia from Assam, a senior exponent of Sattriya Dance and Deputy Director of the Education Department in Guwahati.
Sharodi, with her traditional Sattriya dance costume, commenced her speech by paying tributes to Prof. V. Raghavan, who in 1950 recognised this as spiritual dance and as honour for its existence recommended it to be included in the category of awards of the Sangeet Natak Akademi. As a mark of respect, in this connection, Sharodi requested K. S. Bhaktavatsalam, former judge, to light the traditional lamp of the Sattriya Dance form . Thereafter, the lecture began with the traditional Chant of welfare and Bhoomi Pranam, both recited and played (with the mardala), by the two male dancers of her group. This was followed by a rendition of a Krishna Vandana, an invocation to Lord Krishna , the presiding deity of this dance, by Sharodi.
Sharodi mentioned Sri Sankara Deva and his principal apostle Madhava Deva as the major forces behind this living, enduring tradition of dance, which was an outcome of a neo-Vaishnavaite movement. Sattriya, Sharodi said, ``is born out a dramatic tradition."
Explaining the form, structure and the underlying currents of the Satttriya dance, the speaker mentioned the division of Ankya Nat and the Bhav Nat-the performance style, which is meant for propagation of bhakti. Further it was said that this type was pure, stylised and illustrative in nature.
As part of the repertoire, Sharodi gave examples of the Entry of the King, the Sage, the Warrior (denoting the Positive Character), the Warrior (with negative character), the comic character, action-oriented pieces like Dhanur Bhanjanam, archery lessons by Viswamitra to Rama (both Aangika and Vaachika with suitable Sollus), the fight scene etc. that were ably demonstrated by the male dancers.
The dances outside the Bhav Nat style, the different stances (different for male and female) and movement technique of the Sattriya were also described.
Sharodi also stressed on the need for forming of a regular Maargam or traditional format of performance in Sattriya and in that connection she said that fresh attempts well within the traditional frame work are being attempted as part of fostering of this unique dance tradition of the north-eastern province.
Prof. C. V. Chandrasekhar, veteran Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer and at present Tagore Professor, Madras University, presided over the valedictory function of Nritta Makarandam. He gave his learned views and observations on the presentations and gave an over view of the dance scene in general, and stressed the need for audience response. Parvati Ravi Ghantasala, of KalaPradarsini and convenor of this seminar proposed a vote of thanks.
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