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Ballet on `Bhagavatham'

The ballet on `Srimad Bhagavatam', though flawed, was enhanced by brilliant vocal support

IN SYNCAnupama Kailash leads her ballet during their performance at Ravindra Bharati Photo: K.Gajendran

Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum is a ballet that had all the ingredients to make it a palatable fare; save one-dance in real terms, the essence of this art form. It was conceived on mere aesthetics from ahaarya (costume and hairdo) to stage settings, which is an integral part of any show.

It was Srimad Bhagavatham intact, presented in a compact form, racy style and enriching content. The orchestra had the best vocal ever from the redoubtable Anasuya Murthy and Srinivas, augmented by Renuka Prasad's nattuvangam and Rajagopalachari's percussion. Instrumental support being lent by Ravi Kiran on the bamboo and Saikumar made for a fitting foursome.

The stage dιcor fashioned at three levels gave an extra dimension to the narrative as also an artistic flourish. But, the vital element of classical Kuchipudi dance was missing.

There was a vociferous nattuvangam in its place but the corresponding footwork was sadly reduced to a first cycle slow movement that never scaled the three speeds. Footwork pattern delineation was not visible at any given point of the two-hour ballet.

Major flaws

Slips in gesture coordination (hasthabinaya) were a major flaw that was evident throughout the dance drama among all the dancers including Anupama Kailash, which is a pointer towards imperfect rehearsals. Opening the life of Lord Krishna with the Dasavatharam in mime by artistes placed at different heights on the stage was appealing with the digital picture of the Lord in the backdrop. A quick run on the significant events in Krishna's life like the Kamsa vada (slaying of Kamsa), the leelas of the lord, the divine message imbibed within the rasa leela (Gopikas and Krishna), Rukmini kalyanam, the slaying of Jarasandha and other villains, the Akroora episode, instruction in 64 arts (kala), the Pandava-Kaurava story, the Viswaroopa darshan and later the end of the lord's existence on earth were told both in Sanskrit and Telugu with the chorus of the couplet Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum spiced in at the appropriate situation.

Fine choreography

The ballet had its flashes of fine choreography too-like the depiction of Durga in a temple with two dancers striking a temple gopuram posture while the third dancer sits in the middle with the mudra of Durga when the bride Rukmini comes to pray. The role of Krishna was played by three artistes (Anupama Kailash, Amy Kumar, Abhinandana) at different intervals perhaps to break monotony though none were able get the right sort of facial expressions . It was a relief to see dancers clad in classical costume and conventional make-up representing Krishna with the help of a long garland of flowers and a waistband. Similarly for other male or evil characters, a cross band was the only identification. However, too many narrations from diverse quarters of the stage where two to three dancers were perched to form a group, only led to confusion in the viewers who were obviously not cut out to view assorted scenes being acted out simultaneously at different parts of the stage. The Mahabharatha war sequence, the four cantos of the Bhagavad Gita that Krishna offers to Arjuna (recited in Sanskrit first and enacted in Telugu explanation later) and last but not the least the Vishnu Sahasranama verses made for brilliant choreography. The impact of these was indeed magnetic. It was Anasuya Murthy's charged voice that breathed life into the Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasranama verses as in fact it did to the entire ballet. She carried the play with that rich tonal quality of her vocal rendition.

The ballet, which was behind schedule by nearly two hours, was staged at Ravindra Bharati under the aegis of Sri Vishwajanani Parishad of Jillelamudi (Guntur district).


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