The Season is here… So, will it be the traditional Margam or a thematic presentation? Which kriti will be more effective to express a particular mood? What about the orchestra?

Well, these are issues that every dancer begin thinking about as early as by July-August... For, December is the busiest month for them.

Invariably, the one question that most artists have to respond is… “What’s new this Season?” While some like Priyadarsini Govind prefer to stick to the ‘old is gold’ format and perform time-tested classics, others go into experimentation mode.

Some dancers talk about what’s in store…

Prof C.V. Chandrashekar

December 7, 6 p.m., Naada Brahmam

December 17, 6.30 p.m., Ambalam, Centre for Performing Arts, Nageswara Rao Park

“Margam works perfectly for me,” says the veteran, who will select pieces from his vast bank. “I am being honoured by these people and have been asked to perform for them.”

However, daughter Chitra Dasarathi has something new lined up. “She will present ‘Sowmanasa, which is the story of a flowering tree’ (Bramha Gana Sabha, Jan 2, 2012), and ‘Kunti’ at The Music Academy (Jan 9, 2012) on special request from the sabha.”

Other daughter Manjari will follow in her father’s footsteps and stick to Margam. (Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Dec 16).

Alarmel Valli

Dec 18, 7.30 p.m. Sri Krishna Gana Sabha

Dec 25, 7.30 p.m., Kartik Fine Arts

Dec 30, 7 p.m. Brahma Gana Sabha

Jan 8, 2012, 6 p.m., The Music Academy

“Margam is a wonderfully rich format which throws up myriad hues for a dancer to explore,” says the nimble-footed Valli. “A dancer can work wonders and build so much within the Margam.” That Valli loves poetry and finds a challenge in expressing verses through abhinaya is well-known. She reiterates this love in her new repertoire which includes a piece from Sangam literature. “I am revisiting the Shankarabharanam varnam ‘Swamiki Samaanam Yevaradi.’ Then, I will present the first ever javali I learnt from Muktamma.”

The highlight will be once again a slice of Sangam literature, from Kurunthogai. Lalgudi Jayaraman’s haunting thillana in Vasanthi will be another piece to look out for.

Meenakshi Chitharanjan

‘Krishnathrayam’

Dec 12, 6.45 p.m., Bharat Kalachar

Dec 22, 7 p.m., Brahma Gana Sabha

Meenakshi has chosen a theme that’s just right for abinaya. It deals with the three roles of Krishna --- the charmer to the gopis; the intense lover of Radha and the Ultimate Being for Arjuna.

Says Meenakshi, “I heard Aruna Sairam sing ‘Bala Sarasa Murali,’ the Keeravani Saptaratna kriti of Oothukadu sometime back, and was at once fascinated by it. It is lyrically evocative and has a strong rhythm. I shall present it in the varnam format.”

What better than the Ashtapadi from Gita Govindam to express Krishna, the intense lover? “Here, it will be a medley with a padam-like quality.” Bhagavad Gita is the natural choice for Krishna the Supreme Being. “I begin with the battle sequence where Krishna is Arjuna’s charioteer and go on to His advice to Arjuna. The presentation ends on a positive note.”

Meanwhile, Meenakshi will present ‘My Lover, The Lord’ a thematic presentation, as part of Anita Ratnam’s ‘Mad and Divine’ project for Kartik Fine Arts, on December 25, 6 p.m., at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

Srinidhi Chidambaram

Daasharathi

Dec 21, 7.30 p.m., at Narada Gana Sabha

Dec 28, 7.15 p.m., at Bharat Kalachar

Srinidhi’s Margam will celebrate Rama Bhakti, in all its manifestations. Using poems and songs from a selection of languages, composers and eras, the dancer describes the Lord as visusalised by the poets.

The highlight will be a medley of Tyagaraja kritis -- ‘Nagumomu Ganaleni’, ‘Eti janma’, ‘Kanukontini’, ‘Rara Ma Inti’, ‘Nanu Palimpa’ and ‘Nannu Vidachi’ -- put together in a padavarnam format. A Tamil piece which will serve as a padam, composed by Sujatha Vijayaraghavan, and an item specially composed by Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan will be other attractions.

Srekala Bharat

Madhurya Lahari

Dec 9, 7.15 p.m. Bharat Kalachar

Dec 22, 6.30 p.m., Vani Mahal.

Aaru Padai Veedu

Dec 21, 2.45 p.m. Chennail Tiruvayaru at Kamaraj Arangam

Solo Margam

Dec 25, 7 p.m. Ayyappan Temple, Mahalingapuram.

Dec 27 7 p.m. Nungambakkam Cultural Academy

Dec 31, 5 p.m., Tamil Isai Sangam

Jan 3, 7 p.m. Brahma Gana Sabha, Sivagami Pethachi Audi

“I got the name for this production from T.S. Parthasarathy mama (the veteran musicologist/writer),” says Srekala on her offering for the Season. Besides her solo Margam, she and six of her students will present the thematic ‘Madhurya Lahiri’ which retells the life of Lord Krishna. “The compositions featured are those of Annamacharya, Oothukadu Venkatakavi, Meerabai, Rukmini Ramani and Balamuralikrishna’s Kuntalavarali thillana.”

The highlight will, however, be Madurai N. Krishnan’s Mallari in Gambiranattai. “It’s a beautiful composition, and I am delighted to choreograph it,” says Srekala.

Her solo repertoire will spotlight on ‘Swamiyai Azhaithodi Vaa,’ K.N. Dhandayudhapani Pillai’s celebrated navaragamalika padavarnam. While she wants to focus on Lord Siva, there will be compositions on other gods and goddesses as well. Srekala will also present ‘Aaru Padai Veedu’ as part of the Chennail Tiruvaiyaru fest.

Urmila Sathyanarayanan

Nrithya Samarpanam, Panchali Sabadam and Solo Margam

Dec 11, 6.45 p.m., Meenakshi College

Dec 18, 7.30 p.m., Narada Gana Sabha

Dec 20, 7 p.m., IFA at German Hall

Dec 23, 6.30 p.m., Brahma Gana Sabha

Dec 31, 7.15 p.m., KFA at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Jan 1, 2012, 6.30 p.m., Bharat Kalachar

Jan 14, 8 p.m., Kalapradarshini at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Jan 26, 7 p.m., Narada Natya Vizha

Something old and something new… that’s what Urmila has lined up. “I have come up with completely fresh, specially choreographed pieces for my Margam shows,” says the doe-eyed dancer. One such is ‘Nithyakalyani,’ an Ashtaragamalika varnam, “which I began learning 25 years ago… I never completed it then. I tried learning it again a few years ago but again, left it half way through. So this time, I was determined to finish what I started 25 years ago.”

Also part of the repertoire are Annamalai Reddiar’s Kavadi Chindu and a Purvi thillana. “Actually, I am quite nervous… like I am about to appear for an exam.”

Meanwhile, Urmila and six of her students will present Nritya Samarpanam. “Here, we have chosen Thevaram as the main piece, with the music by S.K. Suresh.” And finally, to encourage her students (from her dance school Natya Sankalpa), Urmila will present 140 of them at the second edition of Narada Natya Vizha (Jan 27-29, 2012).

“There’s a lot on my plate just now, and I am really looking forward to yet another cultural rendezvous,” says Urmila.

Keywords: dance festival

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