A second look at the movement vocabulary would elevate the presentation.
‘Lanky’ and ‘grace’ do not always go together, but Ramya Ramnarayan, disciple of Swamimalai S.K. Rajarathinam Pillai and Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan, disproves the theory. Her long-limbed grace and dignified interpretations make her a complete performer, someone whom you would love to see more of. Especially impressive in Ramya’s repertoire was the Khamas Varnam, ‘Saamiyai azhaithu vaadi,’ (Adi, Thanjavur Quartet), whose heroine pines for the personable Sundareswara of Madurai. He turns around once while being taken in a grand procession, to smile at the heroine, that one moment conveying Sundareswara’s stateliness and the dancer’s clever presentation.
The Meenakshi Kalyaana episode and the lover’s pangs enacted in the anupallavi, the latter within a softly intoned taanam were clear and well-thought out; Ramya's most important talent is her unswerving hold of the sthayi. The crowning glory came in the ‘Samayam Ide Rara’ javali (Behag, Rupaka, Patnam Subbramanya Iyer), where the nayika coaxes Venkatesa, with some impatience, to come home as ‘the coast is clear.’ The music, rendered by Nandini Sharma Anand, and bhava came together in glorious harmony as the dancer played the flirtatious heroine with subtlety and class.
Every jati and step was finished to perfection, but one cannot profess to like the movement vocabulary. Geometry made fashionable by Malavika Sarukkai and diagonal movements popularised by Priyadarsini Govind, have changed the thinking of a whole generation of young aspirants who tend to overdo them and eschew the araimandi steps. Movement steps that cover space dominate the visual panaroma. One wishes for a balance of the old and new, for the beauty of the half-seated rounded steps and the Vazhuvur lasya feminine grace is timeless.
Kandadevi S. Vijayaraghavan (violin) provided a base of strong and clear melody, while Shajilal (nattuvangam) and Nellai D. Kannan (mridangam) aided Ramya in her quest for accuracy in sharp jatis, multi-paced tattu-mettu sequences and interesting arudis.