Noted Kuchipudi exponent P. Ramadevi conceived a novel idea to focus on all Indian classical dances on one platform at Ravindra Bharati, last week. These are major styles — Bharatanatantayam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Kerala Natanam, Mohiniyattam of South India and Kathak and Odissi of North all based on Bharata’s Natya Sastra.
Ramadevi engaged a large contingent of accompanists, some of whom came from Kerala. Srivalli Sarma was the vocalist and I.V. Renuka Prasad was the nattuvanar. The rest of the ensemble comprised of Sridharacharya on mridangam, Saikumar on violin, Uma Venkateswarlu on flute, Srikanth on tabla, Kalamandalam Sharath on ‘Chenda’ that went with Kathakali; Kala Nikhil on ‘Chutti’ and Shinoj Kalalayam on ‘Aiyara’, to join Kerala based dances.
Music was composed and directed by Srivalli Sarma. Chorography was by Ramadevi.
The dancers figured in the programme apart from P. Ramadevi were, Kalalayam Premkumar (Kathakali), Ravindra Raju (Kathak), Bharatanjali Madhusudanan (Kerala Natanam), Raman Kumari (Odissi) and Bharatanjali Mithun Manoj (Bharatanatyam) and Ardra (Mohiniyattam) – all well-trained artistes.
Ramadevi used ‘Dasavataras’, as a thematic presentation. For this she chose Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi Pralaya Payodhi Jale that presents in order all the incarnations that requires a group participation.
The ashtapadi Pralaya Payodhi Jalee itself means the earth was submerged in a fierce oceanic movement from where the first avatara of Vishnu came out as Mastya (fish) to take out the earth. In the second incarnation of ‘Kurma’ Mohiniyattam, Kerala Nartanam and Bharatanatyam artistes depicted the incarnation’s significance. When it was the turn of ‘Narasimhavatara’, Kathakali artiste came into focus donning the role of demonic Hiranyakasipa with rhythmic support of Chenda to enhance the intensity of the theme. The other roles were played by three other artistes. In the case of ‘Vamana’, Mohiniyattam girl Ardra figured as Vamana and three others filled the rest. ‘Parasurama’ was enacted by Kerala Nartanam artiste. However, Ramavataram sequence brought in Kathak and Kerala Nartanam artistes to play Rama and Lakshmana; and ‘Sitapaharanam’ sequence featured Kathakali artiste as Ravana who transforms himself into ‘Saadhu’ played by Odissi artiste and the golden deer was Ardra. They enacted ‘Jatayu Moksham’ part, with Kerala Nartanam artiste playing Jatayu. There was war between Rama and Ravana too, featuring Kathak artiste and Kathakali artiste. The ‘Buddha’ and ‘Kali’ avataras too went the same way.
Thus the show gave a satisfying look of principal dance styles of India, though not vividly as the entire drama was abhinaya oriented. Ramadevi’s efforts drew applause from audience at the end of each of the avataras.