Bragha Bessel's sound training came to the fore in her recital that focussed on abhinaya.
Intellect and emotion flowed as twin rippling streams in the presentation of abhinaya by Bragha Bessel. If a strand of thought made one sit up in appreciation, the conviction of performance added up to an evening of visual harmony. Bragha's ‘Evening of Abhinaya' at R.K. Swamy Hall under the auspices of Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, offered a good choice of composers and subjects.
Gentle yet lively nritta followed by ashtapadi were the springboard of Bragha's recital that brought home her training under veteran Adyar Lakshmanan and abhinaya expert Kalanidhi Narayanan. The quick covering of the stage and brisk tones in Pushpanjali in Malayamarutham followed by verses from the Gita Govindam sparked off the evening. The dancer, a faculty member at Kalakshetra, outlined the 10 incarnations of Krishna - through the words of Jayadeva and also found space to add small touches such as the story of King Bali here.
These little strokes were a continuing feature throughout the recital as they were deployed creatively by the dancer. For instance in the next piece, Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Yennaeramum', such devices acted as embellishments. The bhakta who requests the Lord that he would be content with even little tasks such as sweeping or cleaning the shrine built upon the yearning expressed in the sahitya.
In the succeeding ashtapadi ‘Sakhi He', Radha recounts intimate moments spent with Krishna. Although the dancer took some time to shake off the sombre notes of the earlier piece, the delicate role play of Radha and Krishna moved on with fluidity and gradually Bragha's recapitulation of the past events took root.
A wicked sense of humour sparkled in ‘Ariven Aiyya' in Atana which had the heroine forcefully remonstrate an errant lover. Her mockery of his besotted ways aroused many chuckles in the audience. Again, flashes of ideas enumerating the lover's nature underscored the main theme and also acted as fillers for the next refrain.
The strength of virtue and faith was the substance of the Kshetrayya padam ‘Ninnu Joochi'. Vocalist Hariprasad's haunting Punnagavarali added strength to the dancer's depiction of the loving wife's tears of sorrow at his long absence and the contrasting tremulous joy on reuniting with her husband.
The show stealer was clearly ‘Jagodhodharana,' the Purandaradasa song, which affords infinite possibilities in both song and dance. On an earlier occasion, one had witnessed Bragha's student perform it with verve and joy. This time, it was intriguing to watch how the teacher gave it her own innovative touch. Bragha's portrayal succinctly captured the joy of motherhood. Yasoda's belief that Krishna was her own son was reinforced through examples of the lord of the three worlds being taught to walk!
The Javali in Paras ‘Smarasundaranguni' presented a nayika eager to show off the generosity of her nayaka and rounded off a delightful recital memorable for its dimensions of thought.