With detailed exposition, Nartaki marvelled in her depiction of Andal Nachiar. Vidya Saranyan
Nartaki Natraj, the recipient of the Nritya Choodamani award conferred by Sri Krishna Gana Sabha for this year, presented a Bharatanatyam recital complete in all aspects with an accent on bhava. The disciple of late Kitappa Pillai, Nartaki is known for her affirmative approach to classicism both in her performances and in her teaching. She is a leading performer who is much sought after in India and abroad for her excellence in the art.
Her recital took into account the philosophy of the month of margazhi. Nartaki had selected ‘Karpooram Naarumo’ from the Nacchiar Tirumozhi and followed this with the Tiruppavai song for the day ‘Nottruchuvarkam’. The dancer's headdress for this piece, the ‘Andal Kondai’, harmonised the devotional aspect of the songs.
The depiction of the white conch right at the outset outlined the ideal of the verses. Andal's adoring love for Krishna and her cheerful resolve to wake up all her friends were conveyed by the dancer from an inner vision of bhakti.
The varnam in Khamas ‘Samiyai’ formed the centrepiece of the evening. This piece eulogised Siva and the heroine beseeched her friend to bring back her Lord to her. A composition of the Thanjavur Quartet, this item was structured with pithy theermanams and detailed expositions of ideas.
Nartaki's complete execution of the ‘theyum thatha’ adavu meant that the dancer's fingers touched her toes every single time.
The finishes for the theermanams were done scrupulously and gave a firm footing of pure dance.
Nevertheless there seemed to be a few synchronisation problems with the orchestra in the first part of the varnam. Some firm cueing by the dancer put matters back on course.
The devolvement of thoughts for the abhinaya was relaxed without being overlong.
The friend was addressed not just as an attractive woman but also endearingly compared with a graceful swan, or the sweet koel. Sancharis like the wedding of Sundareswarar were done succinctly. The dancer endowed a world of meaning into the act of ‘applying sandal paste' and coupled the nayika's plea with the arrival of the hero's message and assurance.
A woman's banter with her beloved about his aspersions on her character formed the substance of ‘Parulana Maata’. Nartaki's articulation of the hero's doubts with similes such as ‘the eclipsed moon, the faded lotus’, ensured that this popular javali in Kaapi was a treat to watch.
Kavadi Chindu resounded with all the trappings of the fervour of devotion to Muruga. The bearing of the kavadi and the ceremonial dancing by the ardent devotee were vividly described in this piece. The tillanna in Hamsanandi featured energetic and taxing adavus: the final verses seemed to be the dancer's special offering to the maker.