A three day-long Abhinaya Sudha offered mixed fare.

The art of facial expression is pivotal to nritya (dance) as much as emotive appeal is to a classical music concert. But nowhere has it been stated that the grammar of the classical genre is to be eschewed at the altar of emotion/feeling.

Titled ‘Abhinaya Sudha', the three-day festival series, now organised by Parampara dance and music forum at Lamakaan, stressed primarily on the expressional aspect of our traditional dance forms like Odissi, Kathak, Mohiniattam and Bharatanatyam, not to talk of our own regional Kuchipudi and Vilasini Natyam.

The last two were totally into abhinaya, with little footwork that facilitated the dancer to move across the stage.

For most part, Nandini Nitin chose to make do with a few sancharis and bare minimum adavus, in trying to live up to the objective of the fest. Verses culled out of Krishna Karanaamrutam were set to ‘sloka abhinaya' wherein the dancer mimed and gestured the entire verse out, before she proceeded to the ‘Abhinaya daruvu' from the popular Kuchipudi dance drama, Usha parinayam.

The daruvu in the abhinaya hardly made an impression, though on the expression front, it should be acknowledged that Nandini was at ease depicting the varied bhavas (feelings) conveyed in the song. Since melodramatic abhinaya has come to stay as Kuchipudi's forte, looking out for a less dramatic expression with a natural flow of emotion, may be like asking for a little too much.

The rapid action Javali, which of course is an out-and-out abhinaya-oriented piece, did not allow us to linger on the emotion that the song conveyed for more than second, nor appreciate the artiste for her varied expressions. We were unable to catch the gamut of emotions that flitted across her face, as she raced by the Javali.

Sanjay Joshi also tread the total abhinaya path on the Vilasini Natyam front with a sloka abhinaya from Gita Govindam. Since the text was Sanskrit, we had Yashoda Thakore (on the nattuvangam) give a brief in English, on each of the songs that were presented. Lord Krishna's description of himself to Radha, is the most beautiful part of the show. Likening himself to Lord Shiva in more than one way, Krishna tries to clear the confusion that may arise in his beloved's mind over his physical aspects. Sanjay's was able to convey this negation technique description with aplomb. The dark-hued Krsishna was not to be confused as the ash-smeared Shiva, says the verse. The clarity with which this abhinaya stood was something to write home about.

The ‘Company Javali' so named in the Vilasini Natyam repertoire, we are told, owed its nomenclature to the entertainment dance for British soldiers and officers. The part-English part-Telugu song composed by Karur Sivaramayya to the ragam Karaharapriya way back in the 1800 of British era was amusing. It seemed like the original for the Kolaveri di lingo! This crudely romantic song was enacted by Sanjay with all the jerks and innuendos commonly attributed to females. As things stand, the adavus displayed with its frivolous twists and turns were definitely not graceful or elegant; they seemed to border on the brazenly suggestive sensuality which does not gel well with the modern mind.

Chandar Rao on the vocal was at his usual best while Murali on the flute was mellifluous. Violinist Shiva and Sridharacharya on the mridangam were up to the mark.