Tribute in true Kalakshetra style
Leela Samson... picture of humility
IT WAS an evening of Rasasvada that comes rarely by. An evening of aesthetic delight in every sense of the term, be it in Angika (the body architecture), Vachika (song and lyric), Aaharya (decoration) or Satvika (captivating interpretation). The Kalki Sadasivam Memorial Trust held its annual award giving ceremony for best Tamil advertisement and combined it with a tribute to Rukmini Devi Arundale in her centenary year with a talk by dancer C. V. Chandrasekhar and a Bharatanatyam performance by Leela Samson. The evening had business meeting of presenting the award but managed to make it emotional not without a touch of humour. There was a Tamil magazine giving an award to a Tamil advertisement with the chief guest, S. R. Aiyer confessing that he could not even understand the welcome speech given in simple and beautiful Tamil by Seetha Ravi. The acceptance speech by Girish Chandrasekhar of McCann Brickson advertising for their campaign on Pondicherry tourism was also in English as was the compering. Only one piece in the repertoire of Leela Samson that evening was in Tamil. Yet there was no dichotomy, only a pleasant fluidity. C. V. Chandrasekhar gave an interesting talk on the various aspects of Rukmini Devi's creativity. Telling us that when she could not afford jewellery for the dance dramas, twisted and knotted rope ornaments were made and painted in gold. The colours that she used, the groupings that she choreographed and the formats presented were extraordinary. Touching was the gesture of recognising people who have long served Kalakshetra in various capacities always in the side wings. Rukmini Devi's Kalakshetra has been able to impact all aspects of culture in education, in plastic arts, in textiles, in animal welfare, in vegetarianism and in the living environment. That there were no English explanations given for the Bharathanatyam pieces performed was also significant.
Leela Samson complimented the Aaharya (décor) of the stage with her striking red silk costume with her own side steps in the fan and a Rukmini Devi trade mark tuck of the pallu at the waist on the right. Her performance was a picture of true humility and sincerity. Performing at her alma mater in a tribute to her own guru, restraint was conspicuous in the performance. Evident was simple dignity, poise and humble self assurance.
S.R. Ayer, former chairman, O & M, presenting the Kalki Sadasivam Memorial Award to R. Rajesh Executive Creative Director, McCann-Erickson India in chennai recently -- Pics by K. Gajendran.
Kalakshetra style is famous for its focus on the Angika. The lines are stressed and a precise way of holding the Mudra is emphasised and the words of the lyrics are almost used as tala indicators for placing the hand in an exact position even during narration. But no other style has matched the beauty of a Kalakshetra leap. Leela Samson added to this robust vitality, fluidity and rounded off the sharp edges. It was so good to see a clean neat Alarippu that showed the architecture of this piece in all its brilliance. The Varnam Chalamelara in the raga Nattukurinji is a gem of a Rukmini Devi choreography. It is a slow varnam that requires a consistent sthayi and a subtle delineation to keep the audience attention. Leela Samson used the Varnam as almost a silent eye of meditation in the spaces available within it. The Korvais and theermanams were a joy to watch. The padam, ``Oorike" in the Raga Devagandhari has not been seen performed in recent times. Krishnaveni Lakshmanan, a senior Kalakshetra alumni says it was taught to the early Kalakshetra students by Mylapore Gowri ammal. It is a difficult Padam calling for restrained Abhinaya showing an Uttama Nayika being depicted by a Sakhi.
Full marks to Leela Samson for maintaining the sthayi of this piece just as she did for the popular Jawali ``chali nentlu sahinchine... " The Vachika for the performance was provided in the Nattuvangam by Shobhana Swami who could have helped by restricting the speed at places in the Varnam. Radha Badri was full of Bhava and rose up to the occasion with her singing, Sikhamani's violin was a notch high in the sruti but was soulful. Mridangam by Vijayaraghavan gave some c delightful phrases in the Varnam which enhanced the aesthetic experience.
V. R. DEVIKA
Send this article to Friends by