There was an established pattern wherein the recital began with an invocation to lord Ganesha and lord Natesha (two kowthwam) in Hamsadhwani raga, went on to build up the theme of ‘Sri Krishna Vaibhav’ with select pieces like a varnam, a devotional Meera bhajan, a Purandharadasa devarnama, the Tiruppavai pashuram, before traditionally rounding it off with the tillana and mangalam — a Bharatanatyam margam mode with a thematic touch. Piecing together these slightly varied songs, Subhashni Giridhar managed to narrate a slice of the Bhagavatam or the story extolling the glories of Krishna. And so there was this thread of continuity running through the entire presentation. Everything was in place-the footwork to tala, the discipline to mime and move and the satvikabhinaya which was the dancer’s mainstay.
The choice of songs in captivating ragas rendered mellifluously by Shweta Prasad and an impressive accompaniment in tow — especially Saikumar on the violin whose prefacing for the Sindhubhairavi and the Natakurinji (tillana) embellished the dance recital. The varnam opened with a viruttam (sloka) from the Bhagawad Gita in Bhairavi with Venkatesh providing the opening notes on his flute to which Subhashni gave a fleeting review of the ‘dasavartara’ to the lines, sambhavami yuge yuge...
It was an apt and appreciative piece of creative artistry. The Balagopalam song with its sangathees (refrain) found varied expressions from the dancer as she depicted lord Krishna in different postures as she glided through the sancharis. The episodic narration of the theme of this presentation also began in a chronological manner all through the songs with no room for mismatch. The dancer worked out finer details like Yashoda churning the butter and hanging it to pots tied to the ceiling with great precision and care which showed her artistic sensibilities. The raasleela in solo is worth a mention; while the shifting expressions that fleeted across her countenance as she enacted the irate gopika and the mischievous little Krishna were very convincing and established her maturity with abhinaya. The jatis for the nritta element were optimum but well-laid out; we wish the dancer laces her body kinetics with grace in keeping with her experience. The shift from abhinaya to footwork delineation should be seamless rather than cut and paste; a smooth flow would ensure more lucidity to establish the connect with the theme and in turn generate the required emotive output (rasanubhuti) in the viewers.
The Meera bhajan set to Darbari Kanada with its dulcet notes was like a gentle cool breeze and this piece demanded more of the expressive element which by now the dancer was able to handle with conviction. So from childhood Krishna we were taken to the rescuer of Draupadi, a clichéd episode by now, and then to the Gajendra Moksham (rescue of the elephant by lord Vishnu) which though not directly related to Krishna, has been acceptable poetic eulogy for both Rama and Krishna. Her dance in mime to sheer music gave the Sindhu Bhairavi a lilt as Venkatachala nilayam... (Dasaranama) rippled with life.
Two rare stories of lord Vittala and Pundarika and Kuchela-Krishna extolled the lord’s superhuman powers in protecting his devotees. The dancer could have deviated from the regular depiction of ‘makara kundala’ (earrings) of Krishna by forming a mudra of the crocodile at least once in the refrain. The first and third pashuram (verses) of Andal Tiruppavai were neatly done with the Vamana avatara taking the lead in Ongi ulzhagalandu uttaman peirbaadi (third verse). The tillana in the divinely beautiful Natakurinji was replete with defined adavus which were explored in all the three kalai with clock-like precision. Renuka Prasad on the nattuvangam was his usual best while Sridharacharya on the mridangam was up to the mark.
The recital was hosted by Mumbai-based Suguna Nrityalaya and Union Ministry of Culture at Ravindra Bharati.