Role of Sakhi
The role of Sakhi, in the repertoire of Mohiniyattam was the topic chosen by Gopika Varma where she first explained the various stages of love in which the friend of the heroine plays an important part.
Suitable examples were portrayed by Gopika to describe "Remyanai oru" (Sakhi clears the doubt of the Nayika), "Chandana Charchita" (the heroine shares her feelings with the Sakhi), "Alarsara Paritapam" (the help of the Sakhi is sought to alleviate the love agony of love from the arrows of Kama), "Chendhaar Saayakarupa" (Sakhi acts as an informer informant to the hero), verse from "Kurunthokai" (the Sakhi pacifying the hero), and "Neerajam" (Sakhi being suspected by the heroine of having an affair with the hero).
The presentation was informative, although the lecture could have been interspersed with demonstrations, instead of offering them in two different segments.
Best of Vazhuvur style
The best of the Vazhuvur tradition lies in the hands of K. J. Sarasa, the senior-most torch-bearer of this school, who has trained innumerable disciples over the years. At this venue, the veteran presented some of her disciples in an excerpt from Nala Damayanti Swayamvara Charita, to explain the Vazhuvur technique, its nuances and the visualisation of the theme.
K. J. Sarasa
Sarasa's choreography vividly portrayed the different details of this style.
Adhering to tradition
Lakshmi Mani, senior disciple of Dr. Vempati Chinna Satyam, spoke on adapting the Telugu version (by Acharaya Sadhana) of the holy Tiruppavai into the Kuchipudi format. Lakshmi mentioned the different dance-theatre forms like Yaksha Gana, Veethi Natakam, Bhagavata Mela, etc. all of which have provided source for the Kuchipudi dance format. In adapting Tiruppavai, the speaker explained her usage of the Kuchipudi technique, adhering to traditional adavu structure (music set by Calcutta K. S. Krishnamurti and Shantha).
Idigo Godha (Praavesika Daru format), Ediki-Ongi Ulagalanda, Toorpu-Keezh Vaanam, and others like Koodarai Vellum and Elle Ilam Kiliye were demonstrated.
In the present scene of dwindling number of traditonal nattuvanars, who have been the fountainhead of rhythmical choreography, the in-depth scholarly approach of a percussive artiste who is a master of numbers helps the dancers to achieve greater heights in nritta-oriented compositions.
It requires a great amount of innate talent and interest combined with dedication on the part of the dancer to achieve the required result.
Rajeswari Sainath from Hyderabad is an achiever in every sense of this description, having worked with one of our outstanding Laya exponent Karaikkudi R. Mani, whom the world of rhythm adores with reverence.
Rajeswari, in her lec-dem, classified the aspect of manodharma in improvising intricate nuances of Laya under the categories of jati patterns, vinyasa, coinciding with propriety to sahitya, arudi, kaarvai and suddha nrittam. She explained and demonstrated jatis (Adi-Khanda nadai and employment of Sankeernam) and emphasised the need for the dancers to maintain the talam while reciting the jatis for better understanding of the rhythmical cycles.
Vinyasa (Khanda Nadai-30 maatras), aspect of Poruttam between sahitya and rhythmical play based on Kanakku, the intricate Eduppu varieties (Sumanesa Ranjani tillana of mridangist Madurai T. Srinivasan) uttama, madhyama and adhama, arudi variations (Valaji varnam of K. R. Radhakrishnan - Kaliyai and Arabhi Pancharatna segment) and kaarvai aspect (same swara with different kaarvais), to create beauty of movement were all appropriately demonstrated with utmost confidence by Rajeswari.
Dr. Neena Prasad, exponent of Mohiniyattam from Kerala, gave an insight into the adavu structure and scheme of Hastamudras (according to Hastalakshana Deepika) that form the basis of this Lasya type of dance. The speaker mentioned the adavu structures initiated by Orukkilaiyidattu Kalyanikutti, and those devised by Kalamandalam Kalyanikutti, Kshemavati and Sugandhi; in order to elaborate on these, Nina demonstrated the basic adavus, arai mandi and the inherent potential of these structures.
Caris (Sarpa Gati, samapada cari with count of 4), Tha-Tei group of syllabic combinations, theermana adavu, and misra adavu were beautifully demonstrated to emphasise the features of body kinetics.
The focus on Lasya mode as the base for all moods and the Sthayi sustenance revealing the skill of the dancer to go beyond the word, gestural depiction elaborated over a time cycle to stress the main mood, and the less-elaborate nature of Hastas, were all the high points of this lucid, informative lecture, aptly demonstrated.
Thanjavur Rajalakshmi, dancer-actress of yesteryear and disciple of Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, presented in a very lively talk and demonstration about the compositions of Kavi Yogi Suddhananda Bharati, centering around the aspects of dance and music. Kavi Yogi's songs are musical gems and were popularised much by veterans N. C. Vasanthakokilam, D. K. Pattammal and M. S. Subbulakshmi (Kanneduthagilum, Eppadi Paadinaro). For this composer of great merit, dance and music were embedded in Nature, the beauties of the environ, as Dance of Divinity, said the speaker.
Geetaanjali, Nartanam Seyyeno, Ananda Natanam, Thookiya Tiruvadi, Kuzhalosai, Sitrambala Durai in beautiful Temmangu tune were taken up for exposition. Adyar Balu (mridangam) and Bhama Visweswaran gave solid support to Rajalakshmi who sang with feeling all the compositions, accompanying her students, who gave a neat portrayal.
The week-long event concluded with the valedictory address by Usha Srinivasan, Joint Secretary, Abhai and Director, Hasta School of Bharatanatyam, highlighting the different presentations and adding her own remarks on the event.
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