SOLO Priya Venkatraman's recital was impressive sans flashy manoeuvres and gimmicks.

Sedate nritta and subtle abhinaya coupled with an old world charm permeate the dancing of Priya Venkatraman. At her performance she adopted a low key approach as evidenced from the absence of any flashy manoeuvres and gimmicks to impress. The student of Saroja Vaidyanathan in Delhi, and a stint in the USA, Priya is currently schooling under A. Lakshman and Bragha Bessel in Chennai.

The opening number, Pushpanjali in Simhendramadhyamam was followed by the ragamalika varnam ‘Sami Ninne Kori.' Typically this was the crux of the recital both in terms of length and the blend of pure dance and abhinaya.

The sonorous recitation of jatis by A. Lakshman coupled with Vijayraghavan's dynamic mridangam translated into dance with languid movements and grace. Here, there was no compromise either in the body lines or the pivot of Bharatanatyam - the araimandi stance. Interestingly, Priya's take on abhinaya steered clear of bold statements: instead her mukha bhava came forth as very fine expressions of thought.

Her easy interpretation of the scenes from temple courtyard for ‘Prema Meeraga' continued with an appeal to Lord Siva ‘will not the Lord who blesses the whole universe take pity on me.?'

Translating similes

The dancer conveyed the heroine's longing with similes of the fish and the river delicately for the Sankarabaranam line ‘Prema Meeraga.' This translation of similes as visuals of dance continued into the second half which also featured a quick change of ragas.

Barring a sole discordant note due to a communication gap between the dancer and the orchestra, this piece added up to pleasant natya. In her deep pink costume and impressive stage presence the dancer tackled the varnam with an ease born out of long practice. Vocalist Hariprasad, violinist Kalaiarasan and flautist Devraj added to the melody content for the

range of ragas beginning with the Pallavi in Thodi.

‘Yaarukkagilum Bhayama' in Begada was the padam where the artist pictured a nayika both confident and wise enough to realise the magnificence of her lover. Priya presented the refusal of the nayika to venture in the stealth of the night and instead boldly rendezvous in the full glare of day.

The depiction of the nayika refusing to be cowed down by gossip or tattle was clear enough but would have benefited from a livelier narration and elaborating on the sahitya further particularly as this was the concluding piece for the evening in view of time constraints.