Vilasini Natyam, the traditional dance form that originated in the State was performed with aplomb.
Classical dance enthusiasts of the twin cities were treated to an ancient form of dance, which originated at the temples of Andhra Pradesh, with Vilasini Natyam which witnessed a grand renaissance thanks to the efforts of Padma Bushan Swapna Sundari. In memory of Telugu poet Aarudra who had christened this revivalist dance form which now enjoys a 'classical' status on the national firmament, local dancers who had specialised in this art form gave a traditional repertoire of Vilasini Natyam as it came down the generations of ‘Devadasis' who were the proponents of this genre. So, you will find slightly odd hasta mudras, movements and gesticulations, not to talk of an overall ‘coarseness' if it may be said so without offence to the practitioners. But this is exactly what makes Vilasini Natyam a unique piece of art unadulterated by sophistry. The strain of antiquity is retained deliberately in order to preserve it in its true form. If modifications are done to make it adaptable to the present day stage, they were so far done very surreptitiously without marring the singularly individual style of this dance. Any further sophistication will only dilute the structure and end up in making it a distant cousin of Bharatanatyam or Kuchipudi.
Having said this much, it gets easier to judge the dance as this temple dance was presented in its customary style (aalaya saampradayam) beginning with Bali harana which is the first ritual in the temple invoking the lords reigning in all the directions (8 dikpalakas). Choreographed by Anupama Kailash this opening piece was a group dance wherein the six dancers formed artistic lines as they moved in unison and in twos to dance. It may be said at the very outset that Vilasini Natyam is not given to extensive or intricate footwork patterns for most part. But, varied hasta abhinaya and mukhabhinaya are its highlights.
The Khumba Harati and Heccharika followed, also in group choreography. The swaram sets the tone to a series of footwork ably executed by Poorvadhanasri, Anupama Kailash , Yashoda Thakore and others. The sidelong glances and positioning of the body with every muktaimpu is one of the unique features of this dance. So are two or three hasta mudras: pataka, mushti and shikara which are oft repeated.
The Shabdha Pallavi by Poorvadhanasri, Pujita Vishnujyoti and Girija Kishore was in the lines of tillana. The three dancers displayed exclusive mudras with not too vigorous a footwork to the pallavi a totally nritta-based item. The Navajanardhana Parijatam was Bhama Kalapam with a difference. Here we had three dancers donning Satyabhama's role one after another representing three phases of the atma's sojourn towards the Paramatma which is the crux of Satyabhama's character. Sanjay Joshi as Lord Krishna seemed unable to shed his ‘Kathak' influence which was evident in his body kinetics. For the most part his dance was faultless. The sutradaar Madhava (alter ego of Krishna) provided the relief while Poorvadhanasri as Satya one (ego at its peak) displayed fine dancing skills and fleeting expressions. Yashoda Thakore was Satya-II and was convincing with a natural grace in executing the adavus. She stood out in her abhinaya as one with a natural flair for dance. She endowed her role with the stamp of authenticity despite the dramatic flavour of the role. Anupama was the subdued Satya whose ego has not totally vanished yet the element of humility gets to be more evident as she encounters failure to capture her Lord for herself. The artiste showed signs of a matured Satya whose love gets interpreted as devotion as she realises her love for the lord. The Navajanardhana Parijatham was able to bring out the element of metaphysical within the medium of dance which is what art is all about.
Vocal by Sudharani was just up to the mark while Prakash who lent his voice for the male dancers was more expressive and convincing. Renuka Prasad on the nattuvangam was average. The orchestra provided good support. The show was hosted at Ravindra Bharati.