Naman 2013 brought different schools of Odissi to a single stage

If an audience was treated to a Odissi fare in which the form was treated differently by three different artistes, it was a connoisseur’s pick. Naman 2013 gave us a peek into the subtle nuances of Odissi dance which is a rare event down South. The only drawback was the lack of live orchestra. Pavitra Reddy seemed a hot favourite with city aficionados as she drew cheers before she began her ‘Shri Devi’ a medley of slokas culled out of Chandi Patah, Sankaracharya, eulogising the mother goddessHer mime to a sloka from Devi Suktam followed by the tantric prayer, ‘ya devi sarva bhuteshu…’ was filled with a fervent piety writ all across her countenance and her body kinetics followed suit. In a swift sweep she took us along the very popular, Adi Sankara’s verses, ‘Aiy giri nandini…’ which was adapted to a rather new tune, in keeping with the Odissi footwork. Traces of Bharatanatyam idiom was evident in her swift footwork and sancharis although she kept coming back to the essential tribhanga and chowki postures now and then. Pavitra’s excellent balancing power as she took a full circle on one foot was no mean achievement and her absolute sync to the tala are something to write home about. Her expressive gestures was proof that she had a good grip over the medium. Rahul Acharya’s calibre had the audience gazing in utter disbelief. This pieces were marked by his admirable artistry and aesthetics cut to perfection. The ‘Sthayi’ in raag Sankarabharan was a pure dance (nritta-based) number where he excelled in footwork. Each time he undertook a perambulation around the stage, the tribhanga was intact with the sway which did not in the least appear feminine. On the other hand, Rahul seemed to have mastered the art of chiselled masculinity in this utterly ‘lasya’ type of dance which is remarkable. The still postures were like temple frescos and sculptures in live. One could literally draw the curves and the firm stances of his body kinetics as he danced his way to our heartsHis varied abhinaya to the refrain of the ashtapadi, was very convincing. The ‘Ashta Shambo’ (eight verses eulogizing lord Shiva) was the highlight of the evening. To the sound of a conch, this time around, unlike the previous Ashtapadi, Rahul inculcated a brusque touch with quick sway to depict the tandava attributes of Shiva. The jatis for the second verse were executed with energetic footwork bringing in the male facet of the lord. One could glean the total metamorphosis of the Krsna of Ashtapadi to a valorous, dynamic force called Shiva. The rhythmic elegance and lightning speed with which the artiste pictured the churning of the mythical milky ocean was wonderful to say the least. There was subtlety in his depiction, amazing agility as he undertook the freezed postures and total commitment which was visible in every move of his. Rahul is poised to emerge as the pole star on the Odissi firmament.

The couple Ramesh Chandra Jena and Madhusmitha Mohanty proved a perfect pair as elegance gelled with elan, vigour with verve and sensitivity with sentiment. They seemed made for each other as they danced in absolute sync to tala and to each other. The navarasa was enacted to music and mime delineating the nine artistic moods with marked clarity, connecting each one of them to a sloka or scene from Ramayana. Each scene ended in a sprightly jati (footwork pattern) where they alternated the emotive part without resorting to drama. Of special mention is the Jatayu scene where the entire conflict between the Jayatu and Ravana by the duo to pure dance and footwork was superb. Ramesh Chandra danced with abandon while Madhusmita did with pleasure. The solo dance by Madhusmitha was impressive despite exaggerated mukhabhinaya (facial expressions).