Treasure of the Quartet
Nalli Kuppuswami handing over a cheque to Subbaraya Pillai.
THE TRADITIONAL format of Bharatanatyam owes its sustained existence in the midst of changing cultural scenario, to the compositions of the great codifiers of Thanjavur in a major way. Whatever the new inputs, the fact remains that it is the unparalleled excellence of the dance-music treasure of the Quartet, that remains the perennial source of joy and aesthetic fulfilment, both to the dancer and the viewer.
`Thanjai Nalvar Vizha' was recently organised by Sivakumar to commemorate his parents, the veteran veena exponents, K. P. Sivanandam, direct descendant of the Quartet, and Sarada Sivanandam. The Prince of Thanjavur, Pandanaindanallur C. Subbaraya Pillai and other dignitaries participated in the function. Some of the well-known senior artistes in the fields of music and dance were felicitated.
A Bharatanatyam performance based on the compositions of the Quartet by Meenakshi Chittaranjan was the highlight of the evening. Meenakshi commenced with an invocatory number addressing Devi as Sri Raja Rajeswari.
This was followed by a traditional repertoire consisting of alarippu in misram and Todi jatiswaram, both presented by students of Meenakshi. A sabdam (ragamalika), with Lord Rama as the central deity, was performed by Meenakshi in a crisp manner. It was the ragamalika varnam, "Sami Ninne Koriyunnaanura" brought in an enjoyable synthesis of music and dance, well presented by the dancer.
Good teamwork was evident with Pandian wielding the cymbals, especially in the vibrant, intricate Arudi endings.
Vocalist Gomatinayakam has a good trained voice , although his singing of the varnam at this performance was average.
Viswanathan (mridangam) gave excellent support.
On the occasion of the commencement of its Silver Jubilee celebrations, Natyanjali Trust honoured the veteran Master and outstanding exponent of nattuvangam, 92-year-old Pandanaindanallur (Pandanallur) C. Subbaraya Pillai. Natyanjali Trust, founded by Jayalakshmi Satagopan, herself a student of this renowned guru, has passed on her cultural mission to her daughter Prema Sateesh, also a senior disciple of the same teacher. Guru Vandanam, organised by this Trust, was a fitting tribute to a great tradition in Bharatanatyam. Dr. Nalli Kuppuswami, who presided over the function, presented a cheque for Rs. 25,000 to Subbaraya Pillai under the banner of Natyanjali Trust.
Meenakshi Chittaranjan. Pic. by K. V. Srinivasan.
Rajeswari Sainath from Hyderabad, a senior disciple of Indira Rajan, paid a dance tribute to mark the event. Herself following the Pandanaindanallur tradition, Rajeswari's focus on the intricacies of laya orientations in her presentation especially in the varnam, "Saamiyai" in Khamas, that were further embellished by the laya exponent, Karaikkudi R. Mani, was an apt homage to the mastery of the great teachers of Thanjavur lineage.
Vanati Raghuraman (vocal), Nellai D. Kannan (mridangam), Kalai Arasan (violin) and Muthukumar (flute) rendered excellent orchestral support. However, it was young Ranjani's astonishing skill for wielding the cymbals for her teacher's performance that really enhanced the beauty of the whole presentation.
Natyanjali Trust observed the Founder's first Remembrance Day the previous evening, when it honoured upcoming artiste, Shanmukhasundaram, disciple of K. J. Sarasa.
Mrs. Y. G. Parthasarathy presided over this function and gave the title of Bharata Kala Ratna to Shanmukhasundaram and handed over a cash award from the Trust, to the young aspirant. Shanmukhasundaram performed a couple of items which revealed commitment. The dancer, however, has to work, both in nritta and abhinaya, for perfection. It was heart-warming to see K. J. Sarasa conducting the recital (assisted by Sita), in spite of her indifferent health, and giving a firm support to her student. Girija Ramaswamy, accompanied by Saktivel (mridangam) and Srinivasan (violin) rendered enjoyable musical moments. However, care should have been taken to render the Navarasa sloka on Lord Rama without mistakes.
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