LEELA SAMSON'S Bharathanatyam performance at the Music Academy was a comprehensive treat of artistic excellence, expression and communication. Leela's performance brought alive the words of author C. S. Lakshmi, who, while speaking at the Natyakala Conference of the Krishna Gana Sabha earlier in the day, had emphasised that even words copied have a new meaning since they are approached differently by the new writer. Leela had chosen time tested pieces for the performance yet each one shone with a new light. Through distinctive modes of body language, gestures, costume and interperetation of rasas and sthayi bhavas and their coming together in samyoga, a state of Ananda rasa was created by her. The result was comparable to the taste of a good meal with many flavours when specificity is lost but the experience of a good meal remains. Leela explored the gamut of expressions with finesse and the mastery of a skilled craftsperson.
Beginning with the depiction of the grandeur of the wedding procession of Siva and Parvathi from the seventh sarga of Kalidasa's ``Kumara Sambhavam" to the Mangalam, it was sheer poetry.
K. N. Dandayuthapani Pillai's Ragamalika Varnam ``Samiyai azhaithodi vaa... " is a master piece. This gem was embellished with the chiselled jathis composed by Krishnamurthy. The very first Jathi Korvai was long and tested the skills of both the Nattuvanar and the dancer. Shobhana, the nattuvanar, and Leela, the dancer, passed with flying colours. The choreography with the square pattern and the soft aridi and the very subtle depiction of the mood of each raga was sheer joy to witness.
There were several moments of architectural beauty in choreography as in the theermanam performed in different directions and the depiction of the flowers and the bees in the Vasantha raga. The Gangavatharana in the Sankarabharanam sequence and the charanam ``Sada ninaithukondu... " took the interpretation to a different level. Choreography of nritta passages towards the end of the Varnam in long Prenkhana poses showed innovation in a subtle manner.
The second half of the performance kept to a single emotion shown in different ways. Eershya or jealousy in strong lamentation, in anger and in romance was brought alive in three different poems. Leela provided a broad spectrum of movement techniques in Lalgudi's Revathi Tillana. The sthanas, asanas and mandalas showed a variety of movement possibilities. There were some very interesting counter movements in symmetry with one arm up and the other down.
Leela Samson's performance was one with amazing subtlety and insight, aided in full by the magnificent singing of Vasanthi Rao, crisp and correct nattuvangam by Shobhana, apt and unobtrusive mridangam by M. V. Chandrasekhar and melodious flute by Raghuraman.
Music Academy must think about moving the annual conference banner that hangs on the backdrop to the place where a wooden piece is hung above the dancer.
There it will be prominently seen by the audience and will not be hidden by the movements of the dancer.
Also the jute backdrop bounces off light and creates many shadows behind the dancer making it difficult for the backbenchers to view the Abhinaya clearly, it would be good to see that there is darkness behind the dancer and the lighting does not fall directly on the backdrop.
It would also be good to monitor the varying volume levels of the orchestra.
V. R. DEVIKA
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