Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Contrasting in approach, the two performances were of high quality.
Neat compilation: Anusha and Narendrakumar
The dance festival, facilitated by guru V.P.Dhananjayan, showcased talented artists nurtured at Bharatakalanjali and Kalakshetra. The performance of Anusha and Narendra gave a colourful start to the event, held at the Varasiddhi Vinayakar Sabha Manda
pam, Besant Nagar.
While the purist trademark of Bharatakalanjali rests in the framework of their dance, an evident shift to suit the taste of the modern day rasika was quite discernible.
Befitting the presiding deity and ambience of this temple, ‘Vallabha Nayaka’ was appropriately invoked and following it up with Nattai, the dancers made a remarkable entry in ‘Ananda Nardana Ganapati.’ The literal implications of the dancing elephant-headed Lord impacted His form and grace through visual depictions and lively portrayals of Ganesha’s movements beginning with the introductory ‘Munjoor’ (Ganesha’s vahana).
Widely acclaimed for their unconventional format in choreography, the dancer pair successfully met the objectives of visual communication. Variegated patterns of the Nardana Ganapati were drawn rhythmically extolling his virtues all while establishing his prime position in the God order.
That Shakti is the sum and substance of Omkara, the primordial energy of the Trinity, the stimulus behind procreation, preservation and dissolution was the core of maestro Balamuralikrishna’s Gambheera Nattai varnam ‘Amma Aananda Dayini.’ The sahitya portions to depict the power and force of continuity were progressively laced though the nritta yearned for korvais using more than just the padaka hasta symbolic of Shakti. Suffice it to say that neat compilation of footwork alone does not always justify the sollukattu. It was, however, interesting to note that the teermanams were designed to play more on the dramatic and visual impact of Shakti, the Goddess of propulsion.
The performance reached a crescendo with a soulful rendition both mimetic and melodic in ‘Pibare Ramarasam,’ a composition of Sadasiva Brahmendra tunefully vocalised by Girish Menon. Transcending from sringara to bhakti through an adaptation of roles of Sita and Hanuman played by Anusha and Narendrakumar respectively was an ingenious skill in creativity.
Besotted as Sita is, yearning to be unified with Lord Rama, a replay of situations described His form and nobility to be further expanded by the unrivalled of devotees, Hanuman. Scenic recapitulations of Rama and Anajaneya’s embrace, the exposition of Rama and Sita’s abode in Hanuman’s chest were memorable images.
Both Anusha and Narendrakumar complement one another with perfect understanding, a vital component to maintain harmony of laya and a line of control on stage. The orchestra ensemble comprising Anita Shanmukhanathan on the nattuvangam, Sudhaman on mridangam and flautist Devaraj were effectively subdued.
Rooted in classicism, the second half of the programme contrastingly bore an unhurried pace defining the dignity of the old world charm of Bharatanatyam. Manjari Chandrasekar, daughter-disciple of C.V.Chandrasekar emerged precision perfect engaging a strong, clear and controlled footwork to balance the flow and fluidity of lasya. Invoking the grace of Lord Siva, Manikavachakar’s Tiruvachagam provided that realm of poetic expansion to deify the Cosmic Lord which was adeptly strung in the medium of this language of dance.
The abhinaya complete bhakti and total surrender. Manjari expounded each item substantiating that she was a repository of inherent talent and a high order training.
Successfully graduating from one challenge to another, the Swarajati in Yadukula Khambodi was a travel back in time unfolding traditional and long forgotten adavus in korvai patterns. Mandi and Sarukkal adavus woven in rhythmic complexities were easily tackled establishing the firm hold of the dancer. Particularly eye-catching were the sarpanadai, the intricacies of the teermanams (nishabda pauses) blending with lucid hastas.
An exploration of Sangam poetry from Kurunthogai was the all time high of the performance. The allegory of the bees and the creeper was astoundingly natural. The elevation of the poetry and its moral were further enhanced by the mesmerising vocal rendition of C.V.Chandrasekar underlining the truth that there is dance in music and vice versa. A case of perfect telepathy between the guru and shishya indeed! Singing the praises of Lord Shanmuga in the Simhendramadhyamam tillana, a composition of Arunagirinadar, announced the end of a classical recital.
An exciting and invigorating kuraippu reaffirmed the scholarly approach to the musicality of the dance to which complete justice was done by the mridangam wizard Adayar Balakrishnan. T.K.Padmanabhan let the music flow smoothly through his violin while the divine mood was set by Laxminarayanan’s uninterrupted tambura. The resource inputs and compering were by Rajendrakumar. An artiste of high calibre with an unpretentious demeanour, Manjari is a must see for young aspirants to understand the beautiful link between the past and the present.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu