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Margam splendidly showcased

T.K. GANAPATHY

Artistes displayed the charm of Margam at the dance festival held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.



STRICT ADHERENCE TO PANDANALLUR TRADITION: Meenakshi Chitaranjan's troupe presenting `Sundarar.' Photo: S. Siva Saravanan.

The value and greatness of the Bharatanatyam Margam was demonstrated by the students of Shree Natya Niketan on the second day of the sixth dance festival held under the aegis of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Brought up under the tutelage of Mridula Rai, the disciples gave a spirited display of their talent. After a refreshing depiction of the various forms of Lord Krishna in the initial item and a vibrant jatiswaram in the next by SreeRaksha and Swathi, the guru, Mridula Rai's expressive display of the nayaki bhava towards the Lord in `Sakhiye inda jaalam enadi,' a Sankarabharanam varnam, revealed the dancer's keen sense of rhythm.

`Vellai thamarai pooviliruppal' by SreeRaksha and Swathi and a lilting tillana in Dhanasree as the last item were delectable. Mridula Rai showcased her artistry in `Kuraionrumillai' depicting the mesmerised nayika on her sighting the statue of Lord Krishna. The accompanists were Vanathi Raghuraman (nattuvangam), Neela Sukanya (vocal), Vijayaraghavan (mridangam) and Padmanabhan on the violin. On the whole, a refreshing touch to Margam by the artistes won all round acclaim.

Ecstatic

Savants have euologised the importance of namasankeertanam as the easiest means to God-realisation in Kaliyuga. Bhakti or devotion to the Lord is the leitmotif of all fine arts, especially in the dance art form. Carefully researched by T. S. Parthasarathy and conceived and choreographed by Srekala Bharath, `Echoes of Bhakti,' a dance feature based on the songs of Annamacharya by Srekala and her disciples evoked an ecstatic mood among the audience in the packed auditorium in the next edition on the second day of the dance festival.

Commencing with `Nee Kathamruthamu' in Bhairavi as a good introduction, the succeeding numbers — `Sreemann Narayana' (Bowli ), `Bhavayami Gopalabalam' (Yamunakalyani), `Brahma Kadigina' (Mukhari), `Deva Deavm Bhaje' (Hindolam), `Vande Vasudevam' (Sreeragam), `Madhava Keshava' (Neelambari), `Itu Garudanunee' (Kedaram) and `Bhavamulone' (Suddhadhanyasi) were illustrative of the nine forms of bhakti — sravanam, kirtanam, smaranam, padasevanam, archanam, vandanam, dasyam, sakhyam and atmanivedanam culminating in the ecstatic state of bliss attained by the devotee in the rapid footwork and changing facial expressions of the dancers. They scored well in the delineation of the emotional element embedded in each of the songs chosen.

The rasikas became emotionally charged at baby Sreemathi's meticulous attention to nritta and bhava and she became the apple the of everyone's eye.

Chidambari Krishnakumar's beautiful voice made the listeners reminisce some of the songs of Annamcharya popularised by late M. S. Subbulakshmi. Her nattuvangam and vocal support was ably assisted by Dhananjayan (mridangam) and Shankar on the violin.

Aesthetic

On the third and final day of the sixth dance festival of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the ambience was surcharged with the strains of an outpouring of Swami Shivananda's Ganesa stuti as the invocatory hymn for `Kadambary' presented by the students of the Temple of Fine Arts - Shivanjali. The artistes trained by their gurus, Kamakshi Jayaraman and Vimala Chandrasekhar displayed refined sense of aesthetics in their Bharatnatyam performance. `Ulagam pugazhum natay kalaiye,' a Dandapani Pillai padam in praise of dance as an art form, depicted the various facets of life. Swift movements and the fine-spun music invested the item with serenity and grace. A blend of jatis and sahityam in a Nattakurinji varnam coming next was a true test of the dancers' mettle.

The spiritual dance of Siva shown to Patanjali and others was highlighted with elegance and grace. Tulsidas' bhajan, `Sri Ramachandra Kripalu,' depicting Rama as the darling of Dasaratha and the poet's plea that He reside in his heart forever was brisk and lively. Hanuman tearing his bosom to reveal His Master was indeed very touching. A rhythmic tillana closed the agenda. The dancers were — Kumuda, Poornima, Archana, Akila, Sowmya, Divya, Prabhavathi, Nityshankari and Bhaskar. Suryakala (nattuvangam, vocal), O. S. Arun (vocal) and Shankar Kandasami (nattuvangam) provided excellent accompaniment.

Melange of emotions

Choreographed by Meenkashi Chittaranjan, `Sundarar,' a dance drama was enacted by the students of Kaladeeksha, Chennai, as the concluding event of the festival. Strictly adhering to the Pandanallur tradition, the artistes' emphasis on the complexities of laya orientation was evident throughout.

The dance drama was a mélange of emotions. Lord Siva's curse of His friend Sundarar and Kamalini and Anindadai (two maids of Consort, Parvati) to be born in Bhooloka, Sundarar's marriage with Paravainachiar (Kamalini) at Tiruvarur and with Sangilinachiar (Anindadai) at Tiruvotriyur, Sundarar's loss of vision, the final union of hearts with the intervention of Lord Siva and Sundarar's return to Kailash at the end on his sojourn on the Earth was the theme of the dance drama.

The nritta passages were neatly executed. Sundarar's appeals, his loss of vision, Lord Siva's graceful presence (played by Ildiko Gulyas) a Hungarian disciple of Meenakshi Chittaranjan invested the platform with divinity. Meenakshi Chittaranjan as Sundara played her role crisply.

Never there was a dull moment and this was not a little due to the splendid rehearsal support extended by Gomathinayagam (vocal), Pandanallur Pandian (nattuvangam), Srinivasan (violin), Viswanathan (mridangam) and A. N. Srinivasan (flute).

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