Choreographic subtleties well captured
Sumitra Nitin and Sunanda Narayanan Pic. by S. Thanthoni
THE HAUNTING melody and the devotional fervour whipped up by the Neelambari raagam, Adi taalam padavarnam, ``Senthil mevum deva deva," a composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman, sung with full fervour by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan and S. V. Janani must have gladdened the composer's heart, his presence in all probability a catalyst for this combustion.
In fact, the strong musical component created by the vocalists and their sole accompanist T. K. Padmanabhan on the violin, during ``Kaumaram" a thematic presentation on Muruga, raised the intensity of the experience to a higher plane at Bharat Kalachar.
Presented by Sumitra Nitin, herself an accomplished musician and her sister Sunanda Narayanan who is settled in North America, both disciples of Rhadha, the detailing in the choice of the items as well as their treatment and choreography spoke volumes of the homework done.
The performing aspect was also not neglected; the dancers in co-ordinated costumes were well-rehearsed and provided accurate photo finishes for the nritta passages, the only imperfections being the use of adavus that kept the dancers rooted in one place, and the unsatisfactory kitataka-tarikitatoms.
Even the innocuous opening and closing items, taken from Arunagirinathar's Tirupugazh and Kandar Anubhuti respectively, had special features built into their presentation like the khanda gati Alarippu interlaced with the former composition and quick glimpses of Muruga in the six main temples illustrated within the latter.
The incorporation of sculpturesque poses of Muruga with His peacock or His consorts peppered the evening's show in guru Rhadha's choreographies providing powerful visuals, in addition to an element of variety that took advantage of the presence of a twosome in the theermanams and korvais of the varnam and thillana, that was again a composition of the violin maestro in Hamirkalyani raagam, Adi taalam.
Another beautiful segment was the pancha nadai of the peacock in the varnam charanam, `Va va aadum mayil.' Rhadha on the nattuvangam and Vedakrishnan on the mridangam provided the foundation for the rhythmic excellence.
Pavithra Srinivasan's arresting stage persona had dominated her Bharatanatyam recital for Bharat Kalachar, until the last offering of Swami Dayanand Saraswati's Desh raagam, `Bhaarata Desha Hitaaya' changed one's perception of the dancer. With great sensitivity Pavithra wove the recent Tsunami tragedy into the fabric of the theme song for Swamiji's Aim for Seva programme that urges people to do service for the betterment of the country, capturing the pathos of human suffering without sensationalising it. This less-than-five-minute piece added depth to the programme, more than what had been achieved in the preceding one and a half hours.
Pavithra, settled in North America, is currently working with dancer-teacher A. Lakshmanan whose choreographies were presented that evening. Lakshman conducted the recital with authority, supported by a lively Nellai D. Kannan on the mridangam. Hariprasad, the vocalist was melodious, but one misses his full-throated participation, while Vijayaraghavan's tunefulness on the violin bestowed on the orchestra an aura of majesty, especially in his Desh outline.
The role of a bold and confident nayika who goes openly to meet her beloved, in the Begada padam by Subbarama Iyer, ``Yarukkagilum Bhayama" suited Pavithra's self-assured style perfectly, and her portrayal under the guidance of Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan was a masterly one. The dancer's mobile face and sparkling smile are backed by a maturity and a profound understanding of the characterisations that serve to enhance her appeal as a communicator.
Though sketches of Krishna's compassion towards Draupadi and Arjuna in the Mahabharata were brief, they conveyed the essence of the message effectively. The pure dance segments were enjoyable for their well-intoned theermanams executed with flair. Balamuralikrishna's Kadanakuthuhalam thillana set in Adi taalam touched the soul with its fascinating medley of music and dance, the artistes obviously saving their vibrant best for the last.
The decor on the Bharat Kalachar stage trimmed down after the end of the main season has an aesthetic quality about the structure that resembles an entryway into a temple or a mandapam, with its portico decorated with lamps.
The one impression that Archana Narayanamurthy leaves behind is the sincerity of her approach to the art. Shorn of glamour or any other feigned trappings, one got to witness good dance, performed to the best of her ability in her Bharatanatyam recital. A disciple of the well-known teacher and nattuvanar, Pandanallur Pandian, this young, confident lawyer represented the essence of a good student, with her seriousness and involvement in every aspect of learning and performing.
The opening Mallari in Gambhira Nattai raagam, Khanda jathi Triputa taalam, played in temples during the procession of the deities where dancers carried the palanquin, served as an introduction to the angularity and the austerity of the traditional Pandanallur style, while establishing the diligence of the dancer.
A deeper araimandi posture and a stiffer elbow would help her dance become more finished. Pandanallur Pandian's expertise and supreme control over the pace of the programme is worth mentioning. He was supported by young mridangist T. Viswanathan who impressed with his studied rhythmic involvement that was particularly catchy in the charanam section of the varnam.
The Khamas composition eulogised Siva in juxtaposition with the suffering of the heroine pining for Him. Archana handled the interpretations in a simple and straightforward manner, with enough emotion to convey the meaning, the stories of Manmadha and Raavana being some of the elaborations handled.
The Atana padam, ``Ariven Ayya" conveyed the anger of the heroine against her hero who has strayed. This was followed by the Kambodi raagam padam, also of Subbarama Iyer, ``Padari varugudu' in which the heroine pleads with her stubborn friend to call her lover. The young specialist Roshini was at her melodious best here, having maintained a pleasing show throughout, with Muthukumar on the flute and Kalaiarasan on the violin providing a platform of wonderful melody.
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