An enterprising bunch
Lakshmi Ramaswamy... lyrical.
PRESENTATIONS BY four dancers at the Narada Gana Sabha proved what an individualistic art form Bharathanatyam is. Lakshmi Ramaswamy is a disciple of Chitra Visweswaran. Chitra's style is full of jumps, sways and plenty of running around the stage. Lakshmi kept these to the minimum. There was a quietitude in her dancing that was graceful and lyrical. True, there was the characteristic Chitra style of tatti mettu that goes diagonal on to the left of the stage and turns horizontal half way. This was charming in Lakshmi's dance. The ``Swaminathanaai azhaithu vaa'' varnam and the Kannada song ``Baro Krishnayya'' were done with good feeling and sensitivity. The musicians were sensitive to the dancer's mood and Chitra Visweswaran's efficient Nattuvangam supported the dancer totally. Jagdish Janardhanan's mridangam was soft too in keeping with the mood and never obtrusive. Veeramani's violin was equally supportive. Vanati Raghuraman's singing was full of expression and was well-modulated. Vanati soared beautifully in the Abhinaya sections of the dance. The nattuvangam for the second half was done by Vijay Madhavan in a crisp manner.
Mahalakshmi who performed after Lakshmi hails from a traditional nattuvanar family. She had a good grounding at the Kalakshetra and has been working with the Dhananjayans. Her presentation was full of wonder. She seemed to retain the expression of little girl in wonderment at the world through the programme. Her costume, off-white, made her look pale in the large hall which requires extra efforts to reach out but her exuberance compensated. Mahalakshmi has her own style with a softened approach to the Kalakshetra stiffness and her Dasavatara song of ``Parkadal Alaimele'' was full of drama and graceful Nritta. So was the piece in praise of Durga. G. Narendra complimented the dance with his Nattuvangam. Ramesh Babu's mridangam was good and supportive. Deepu Nair's violin added to the success of the programme.
Shrikant... perfect adavu.
Shrikant is a disciple of Padma Subrahmaniam and hails from a Bhagavatha Mela natakam family of Melattur. He used none of Padma's characteristic Karanas and the twists and turns in his presentation of Bharathanatyam. His black and red costume was in keeping with the Sabarimala season and his simple make up and attire were elegant. He performed the Pancharatna Kriti ``Jagadanandakaraka". One wonders if this really compensates for the varnam with its dependence on description and no opportunity for sancharis. One can only be literal and do padartha abhinaya for this piece. Shrikant performed this very efficiently. Only the plastic smile did not leave his face even in moments of pathos. He has captivating eyes and can work wonders with them if he controls his smile. Was the stress on nalinam in his dance, one wondered. His adavu executions were perfect. The showing of ananda and the plough were especially interesting. He was unfazed when a line was not sung on cue but managed to perform with grit. His announcements were in chaste Tamil and he told the audience in the folk style of seeking pardon if there were any mistakes in the performance. He went on to add that if the performance was good, the credit went to the musicians and the faults were his responsibility.
Sangita Iswaran... combination of two styles.
Gopalakrishna Bharathi's ``Irakkam varamal povathenna karanam'' in the raga Behag was done with good feeling. Beginning with playful questioning, going on to sarcasm and ending with sorrow was well thought out and performed but even here his smile was retained. A crisp Tillana in Amrita varshini brought in a variety of adavu patterns which were a delight to watch. There was a problem with music though. Sushant had a good voice seemed to be singing mechanically without any passion. Vijayaraghavan's mridangam, Nagarajan's violin, Vijay Madhavan's nattuvangam provided apt support.
Sangita Iswaran is trained in two opposite approaches to dance. Her gurus Savithri Jagannatha Rao and C. V. Chandrasekhar are from the Kalakshetra school while her Abhinaya guru Kalanidhi Narayanan has an intimate, inward approach to expression. Sangita combined these two beautifully in her dance. Her expansive movements and integrated approach characterised by a quiet efficiency and a good sthayi makes her stand out as a dancer. Sangita began with the Neetimati Pushpanjali and a song Aravinda Lochanane ... and went on to the Nttakurinji Varnam, ``Swami nanundan adimai...'' The innovative theermanams and the racy nritta portions showed her as a dancer with intelligent ideas. Girija Ramaswamy sang with mellifluous ease and bhava and her good voice soared above the dance. C. V. Chandrasekhar provided the nattuvangam with clarity and unobtrusive dignity. Anil Kumar on the mridangam and T. K. Padmanabhan on the violin were efficient and easy.
Sangita performed the Keertanam in Mukhari ``Endraikku Sivakrupe varumo'' in a contemporary manner depicting social injustice. Locating the piece written hundred years ago talking about how people who have money and influence can get any thing done while those who do not have these have to suffer. Sangita depicted, in a touching manner, caring for a sick dog lying on the road . Her depiction of the Mugdha nayika in ``Padakintiki povenamma'' sent a chill up the spine.
Mahalakshmi... girl in wonder.
One wonders if this kind of Abhinaya piece is to be depicted at all on the stage. It showed blatant sexual exploitation of a young girl who is reluctant to go into the bedchamber the second night.
She tells her mother about the things that were done to her the previous night. When Sangita paused before exiting one felt it was like a lamb going into the lion's den. The Marubari Talalenu Ra was brisk and breezy and then came a delightful Tillana in Amirkalyani. It was with delight and the feeling that Bharatanatyam is in intelligent hands that one watched these four dancers.
V. R. DEVIKA
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