Lokeshraj’s sound training is sure to take him places.

Abhinayasudha, a premier institution for music and dance headed by the veteran Kalanidhi Narayanan, presented a Bharatanatyam recital by Lokeshraj of Kalakshetra, in memory of cultural impresario Y.G. Duraiswamy.

Lokeshraj, as an alumnus of Kalakshetra, embodies the excellence the premier institution stands for. Technical virtuosity, as in perfect lines, perfect finishes, clarity in footwork, graceful mudras and precision in timing, was at the highest level. Lokeshraj also has an engaging emotive skill that conveyed the meaning of the lyric in a simple yet fluid way.

Expressive eyes

The dancer took on the role of a woman (nayika bhava) yearning for the attention of ‘Rangayya’ in the Natakuranji padavarnam ‘Chalamela jese’ (Adi, Moolaiveettu Rangasami Nattuvanar). Though there were no frills or elaborations in the contained interpretation, Lokeshraj’s expressive eyes did the talking.

From the formal Kalashetra-style of expression, the dancer moved to the intense Kalanidhi-style in one of the doyen’s signature pieces, ‘Payyada’ (Naadanamakriya, Kshetragna), choreographed by senior dancer Bragha Bessell. A woman bemoans her husband’s apathy, while reliving the good times when he didn’t want to lose sight of her. The dancer traversed time and gender as he switched between the adoring Muvvagopala and the blushing bride in the past to the distressed woman in the present, with deft change of expression and stance, without losing the thread of the plot.

Here is a rising star all right, only that he needs polishing. Little details such as switching off suddenly at the end of the varnam, while still seated in supplication is too abrupt an ending to be acceptable. Also, on principle one did not agree with bringing in nayika bhava in the devotional kriti ‘Mughathai kattiye’ (Bhairavi, Papanasa Mudaliar) and introducing an element of sringara, however fleetingly featured.

While the recorded music with the likes of Sai Shankar (vocal) and Sheejith Krishna (nattuvangam) excelled, the music arrangement of ‘Sankara Si Giri’ (Hamsanandi, Swati Tirunal) by Leela Samson was classy. She kept the Hindustani element alive through the musical notes (G.Srikant) and the pakhawaj accompaniment. But was the stylish choreography vibrant enough for a young, agile dancer to finish with? No.

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Vivek NarayananJune 28, 2012