Dance like a man
Praveen Kumar of Bangalore gave a pleasing recital.
Praveen’s chosen padam featured a nayaka in separation.
Photo: S. Subramanium
P. Praveen Kumar of Bangalore came to the Capital perform Bharatanatyam at the India International Centre this past Monday. A disciple of Gurus Narmada and C.V. Chandrasekhar, he gave a neat recital in which his abhinaya was set to songs whose primar
y character was a man — the nayaka, rather than the commonly seen nayika.
His varnam, though it was not strictly in the nayaka or nayika format, being a compilation of verses from the Krishna Shata Namavali Stotra, also featured male characters such as Krishna and his father Nanda Gopa. Here an interesting approach was the abhinaya set to niraval of the line “Nanda gopa priyatmaja”, in which he showed how the father protected the son from being scolded by the neighbourhood gopis. When the gopis come to complain, Nanda allows Krishna to remain out of sight and handles pacifies them. After their departure, he chastises the mischievous son with a smiling patience. The ending of the varnam, with the dancer remaining frozen as Krishna in his vishwarupa or cosmic form, revealed to Arjuna just before the battle of Kurukshetra, was effective.
Praveen’s chosen padam, a song by Subramania Bharati, featured a nayaka or hero suffering the pain of separation from his beloved. Describing him as a virahotkanthita nayaka, a character so rarely seen on stage, the dancer managed to show the anguish of the sensitive man without losing clarity of mudras. His javali, featuring a drishta nayaka, was a stark contrast in mood. Here, the hero, used to two-timing the nayika, discovers he can no longer be complacent as she is not ready to accept his excuses and fall in with him. He realises he can no longer take her for granted since she has grown wise to his ways. Here, more than in all the other abhinaya pieces, Praveen emoted freely.
Praveen’s sleek lines and agile footwork combined with a serenity of countenance and gave a pleasing look to his recital. He needs, however a bit more strength in the upper body, which though taut, does not have the power his legs have.
In abhinaya, barring the javali, Praveen’s expressions were not more than superficial. It was imitating bhava rather than imitating life. Once his abhinaya matches up to his nritta, Praveen’s dance will acquire greater allure.
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