Picture of competence
THE INHERENT strengths of Prashanthi Jagannathan's Bharatanatyam dance style are her quiet confidence and an accurate sense of rhythm that combine to create an image of efficiency. This efficiency was all pervasive in Prashanthi's approach, in the meticulous execution of the nritta passages, with the dignified elaborations peppered in between. The tall, young dancer, a medical researcher from North America, was at ease with the nuances of the dance style. From the opening Gambhiranattai invocation, the tempo of the programme was maintained at a high level. Radha Badri's harmonious melody, violinist M. S. Kannan's and flautist B. N. Ramesh's musicality provided a counterpoint to Nellai D. Kannan' s zealous percussive support. The cymbal-wielding guru, Madhushri Raj Sethuraman, was competent in the lead.
While the intricate patterns of adavus were coated with grace and a remarkable clarity in footwork, more usage of stage space and a lighter treatment of the non-stationary steps would have enhanced their appeal. The perfunctory lines describing the majestic beauty of Siva as well as the more detailed instances of the Lord responding to devotees like Kannappar and Nandanar were sketched by the dancer with enough conviction and involvement. Likewise, the rhythmic exactitude extended to the concluding Valachi thillana set in kanda jathi triputa talam, a composition of Salem K. Meera, was equally impressive.
Prashanthi's expressiveness was again highlighted in the Papanasam Sivan composition "Devineeye tunai" in Keeravani ragam, Adi talam that dealt with Goddess Meenakshi. Though the interpretation was literal, the dancer's good understanding conveyed the story with easy facility. But Subramanya Bharatiar's soulful Jonpuri ragam "Asai mugam" was a disappointing portrayal. For one, the rhythmic component was intrusive, particularly the enthusiasm of the drummer, and secondly because the choreography of a poignant lament from a heartbroken heroine, unable to recollect the face of her beloved, required more sensitivity in delineation, in terms of time and pace.
An upcoming artiste can generally bank on a sense of benign indulgence towards any shortcomings; and it is no different for Prashanthi. But some improvement in her posture and araimandi stance, along with a little attention to the footwork will take her far in her endeavour to reach greater heights.
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