Explosive mix of tune and tempo
Rhythm dominated `Akhanda Margam,' an exploration of Bharatanatyam.
Photo: K. V. Srinivasan
GRACEFUL, STRIKING AND METICULOUS: Deepa Mahadevan.
Never before has there been so much collective effort in a dance recital. `Akhanda Margam,' presented at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, was an exploration of the ubiquitous Bharatanatyam repertoire through the 14-beat cycle of the khanda jati ata talam.
Masterminded by Guru Madurai R. Muralidharan and performed by Deepa Mahadevan, the two-and-a-half hour marathon effort was an explosive combine of tune and tempo.
Time-keeping was, of course, the primary consideration. The Pushpanjali in Nattai ragam was a well-rehearsed opening that set the pace for the evening. As a matter of course, rhythm dominated every offering and it is to Muralidharan's credit that the many nritta sequences set in the same talam did not seem repetitive. While variations in pace and nadais kept the audience counting, the challenge of keeping abreast was visible even for the artistes including the experienced mridangist who was armed with a book.
The dancer, a disciple of Muralidharan and Usha Srinivasan, acquitted herself with distinction. She is a serious student and a studied effort was tangible in her timing, grace and posture. Being of a slight build, she is also light on her feet and energetic. However, she can improve her footwork and try to develop an overall presentation style.
The sancharis in the ragamalika varnam composed by Muralidharan, ``Samagana Priyane" described Ravana's penance and incidents regarding Siva bhaktas like Nandanar and Markandeya. While Deepa showed maturity and clarity in her acting abilities, the one who made the biggest difference was vocalist Kuldip Pai with his expressive rendering. The elaborate orchestra with Muralidharan (nattuvangam), P. L. Kumar (violin), V. L. Narayanan (veena), Sivakumar (flute), Dhananjayan (mridangam), Arul Anandam (tavil) and Chandrajit (tabla), coordinated well, but the combined effect of so many was sometimes overpowering.
The varnam was a balanced offering of bhava and rhythm, but the same could not be said of the padams: `Mazhai' and `Asai Mugam,' both Subramanya Bharati's compositions. There was melody but the bhava was lost in all those layers of rhythm and music. A tillana with a ragamalika pallavi composed by Muralidharan again, marked by a jugalbandi between the percussionists brought the programme to a dramatic conclusion.
CONFIDENT AND VIBRANT
Anita Sivaraman, attractive and confident student of dancer N. Srikanth, is a pre-medical student in the U.S. She is a dancer blessed with a keen sense of timing, an extremely mobile face and a vibrant movement vocabulary. No wonder she makes such a striking picture on stage.
Being a versatile dancer himself, Srikanth has imparted the aesthetics of the dance style to Anita without curbing her innate enthusiasm. He conducted the programme with authority as a compere and as a nattuvanar. Crafting moments of silence within the fabric of the musical compositions, he added a touch of the dramatic with class.
Jayadeva's Ashtapadi on the Dasavatara tuned in ragamalika and talamalika was choreographed with a strong theatrical quotient. The Narasimha avatar was particularly effective with the inclusion of additional lyrics describing Prahlada, recited in a rhythmic metre by Srikanth. The characterisation of Hiranyakasipu through nritta passages was also well done.
``Aingarane" in Mohanam (Adi) by Veena Sivaram and ``Om Namo Narayana" (Karnaranjani, Khanda chapu) talam by Ambujam Krishna and the concluding Rasikapriya tillana in Khanda ekam by Madurai Muralidharan, were the other enjoyable pieces. Randhini (vocal) provided excellent melody along with Thyagarajan (flute), Sudhaman Namboodri (mridangam) and Parthasarathy (special effects).
Despite so much merit, surprisingly one still felt the recital was incomplete. From the standpoint of providing enough action and excitement, it was good, but from the angle of providing some depth, the recital fell short. Whether it was the dance choreography or the choice of items that tilted the scales, remains an open-ended debate.
Dressed tastefully in earthy tones of moss green and orange, Janaki Ganesh came across as a sincere performer, dancer-teacher-nattuvanar Jayanthi's dignity and accuracy with the cymbals and Vijayaraghavan's percussive skills adding to the aura of expertise and mastery. Janaki's sincerity was reflected in the care she took over the proper execution of the adavus.
The finishing was also painstaking, but one would wish for her to be lighter on her feet. Though the rhythmic theermanams composed in different nadais by Bhagavatulu Seetharama Sharma were executed with clarity and grace, added energy would make them livelier.
Though Janaki's bhava is mature, its subtlety sometimes defeats its purpose. Having trained with Priyadarsini Govind, this style maybe inevitable but Janaki should realise that subtlety works only as a reflection of emotions from deep within.
Such a style can never be the starting point; it can only evolve over time.
The love-lorn nayika in the varnam and the proud mother of the divine-child Krishna in the Daasarnama, `Jagadodarana' were thus effective delineations but limited by the dancer's technique. The concluding Lalgudi Jayaraman's thillana in Madhuvanti raagam, Adi taalam, was most tuneful, leaving the viewer with memories of good music and meticulous effort.
Send this article to Friends by
Chennai and Tamil Nadu