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A temple's cultural fest

RANEE KUMAR

Ranganatha Swamy temple's Brahmotsavam was marked with dance, spirituality.

The week-long Rang Bagh cultural and religious festival saw the likes of Pandit Jayant Kastuar and artistes from Kuchipudi Dance Centre, present their respective styles of classical dances along with local artistes like Sobha Naidu, Vanaja Uday and Perini Tandavam by disciples of Dr Nataraja Ramakrishna.

The viewers gathered at the Ranganatha Swamy temple premises were in for a pleasant surprise as Jayanth Kastuar chose a concise Kathak recital which was more in the form of a demo rather than a conventional stage performance. Graceful footwork delineations and emotive ease in expression were marked in the brief spells of varied taal and lai presentations.

The tarana was a more gratifying one from the audience's point of view as we got to see a slightly full-fledged Kathak item that was indeed enlivening. When an artiste enjoys and gets engrossed in his piece of art, he obviously bestows a soul into the structure of dance. The result can be sheer joy for the viewer too.

And this is precisely Kastuar's mantra, which made the performance, however piecemeal, a success.

Perini Tandavam

Perini Shiva Tandavam, despite lyrical and rhythmic excellence fell short of synch and clarity. Conceptualised with a vision and a glorious history, it did not reach the heights of martial aesthetics, which is its basic strong point.

Instead the group of five (dancers) who are supposed to be synonymous with the five facets of Shiva as also the pancha bhootas (five elements), were like individual entities with varied rhythmic precision and talent, who though moving in tandem in rigorous footwork patterns, had thrown corresponding hastha abhinaya to the winds. And this was blatantly visible throughout the show.

Despite the rigour and masculinity of the dance which is powerful in footwork without bordering on acrobatics, it would add a lot more by way of aesthetics if the costumes were refashioned to balance both artistic demands as well as practical need for free movement of legs. This is mandatory if Perini Shiva Tandavam is being adapted to suit a stage performance.

The tandavam had its plus points nevertheless. Dating back to the time of the Kakatiyas, this martial dance was of a veera shaiva (extreme shaivism) tradition and flourished under the rule of Ganapathi Deva. The salutation dance in praise of the king was beautifully worked out by the five dancers in series of one and two each.

So too was the Shankara-Girija concept handled with artistic vigour. The footwork patterns of this particular form are extremely intricate and energetic with statuesque postures reminiscent of Ramappa (Kakatiya) temple frescos. Tremendous staying power is the core feature of this dance.

Twinkle toes

The five dancers (Srinivas, Prakash, Ranjith, Venkat and Satyanarayana) were good at footwork but coordination and act of balancing is something that has to come with diligent practice that was obviously absent here. Balaramamurthy and Janardhan on the mridangam made an impact. Kalakrishna's nattuvangam and Amalapuram Kanna Rao's vocal were pleasing to the ear. The highlight of the evening was Swapna Sundari's choornika at the very beginning of the temple ritual (Bali Harana).

Be it a pithy verse or an hour-long performance, Swapna can speak the language of dance through her body kinetics and gestures. She weaved a spell over the audience for the brief time she emoted for the choornika leaving everyone asking for more.

The choornika was followed by invocatory verses to the eight directional deities each verse being enacted through dance and music by Swapna's pupils-Sanjay Joshi, Anupama Kailash, Yashoda Thakore, Purvadhanashree, Girija K, Madhavi Mala, Kanupriya and Shweta. The otherwise little known Rang Bagh temple premises teemed with life and gaiety as the week long Brahmotsavam celebrations got to a close.

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