Leela Samson... domination of sringara
AT THE Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, the recital of Leela Samson revealed the distinct stamp of her alma mater, Kalakshetra. Leela, well known in the dance circuit of the capital city, had chosen to present more of Sringara-oriented compositions on this occasion. While Leela exhibited refinement in the execution of the Nritta segments, her handling of the aspects of abhinaya lacked depth and lustre, contrary to what would normally be expected of a senior artiste. Leela's approach to Nritta was firm. Her execution of the different adavus were marked with grace, bringing out their full beauty. The intricate rhythmical patterns (set by Karaikkudi Krishnamurthy) for the Varnam, were enjoyable with Leela's spirited performance. Similarly the arudis that she presented in the latter part of the Varnam created thrilling conclusions to the charana swaras. This lively new Varnam composition in Telugu spoke about the heroine who is wedded already (Parakiya) and who is afraid to accept the requests of her secret lover, and tells him that this is not the opportune moment to seek her closeness.
Leela disappointed one in the interpretative aspects of dance. A note of creativity or liveliness in the sancharis, dwelling on the varied nuances of abhinaya were missing in Leela's depictions. Throughout the interpretations her face was bland. Whatever she conveyed through her facial expression seemed lifeless. Her face could not bring forth any of the finer details to strike the right impact. The Padam ``Moratopu" of Kshetrayya again suffered the same plight and Leela did not impress much in describing the lonely Nayika who awaits her beloved Muvva Gopala for whom she expresses her sincere love. A Javali(Vagaladi) followed the Padam,creating some lively moments, especially thanks to the enjoyable musical accompaniment of Vasanthi, from New Delhi. Even this excellent vocal support, could not generate the necessary impact in Leela to succeed in her abhinaya explorations. The orchestra was well coordinated, and consisted of a team of versatile young and skilful artists, most of them from New Delhi. The Nattuvangam and the recitation of the Jatis were crystal clear and precise. Akkarai Subbulakshmi, the sparkling young star violinist enriched the orchestral performance with her powerful participation.
Well-known dancer and teacher, Jayanthi Subramaniam, takes the credit for training Jyotsna Jagannathan who danced with considerable skill at the Pongal Dance Festival of the Sabha. Jyotsna has a pleasing stage presence. She is endowed with an expressive face and supple physique with which she could convey her serious approach to her chosen tradition. A pushpanjali, verses from Sri Ganesa Pancharatnam and Misram Alarippu formed the invocatory section of the recital. Following these was the Varnam, ``Sakhiye," of the Thanjavur Quartette, performed by the young dancer with confidence. The Nritta oriented part of the Varnam, particularly the theermanams came out well with perfection. The different adavu structures were streamlined with neat execution. Jyotsna exhibited good control over the intricacies of Nritta and tackled the varied Nadai patterns of Nellai Kannan (mridangam) during the lyrical elaborations, a good exercise to test young aspirants as this one. Especially, in ``Samiyai Azhaithodi," Nellai Kannan's accompaniment was simply superb. However Jyotsna has to work to gain firmness in firmer footwork at the concluding sections of the rhythmical patterns.
On the side of interpretation aspect, Jyotsna has enough enthusiasm; but she has to avoid attributing a sensuous approach and presenting abhinaya with coquettish looks. This is accentuated by unnecessary lip movements and fluttering eyelids. With further guidance from her teacher, Jyotsna should be able to capture the nuances of abhinaya with proper and better understanding. Also choosing old and traditional Padams like ``Yenganum," which do not contain much content or scope for elaboration, does not help in ascertaining the dancer's capacity for abhinaya. The current practice to include such pieces in the recital is probably to rate the performance as tradition-bound. Jyotsna performed this piece in the given format.
Radha Badri rendered excellent vocal support, assisted by the melodious accompaniment of Seetharama Sarma (violin) and Thiagarajan (flute). Jayanthi Subramaniam conducted the recital with her usual firm Nattuvangam, revealing her sincere commitment to the dance discipline of her guru, Adyar K. Lakshman.
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