Whether presenting the extended key piece Ashta ragamaalika or the much shorter but no less appealing Sabdam, Urmila Satyanarayana’s dance for the Narada Gana Sabha was like a stream in monsoon – brimming with vital life.

One of the arresting aspects of Urmila Satyanarayanan’s natyam is her winsome smile that lights up the performing space with its vitality. The assurance in the smile is realised during the course of her recital where one appreciates the exceptional artistic mettle of the dancer.

Whether presenting the extended key piece Ashta ragamaalika or the much shorter but no less appealing Sabdam, Urmila’s dance for the Narada Gana Sabha was like a stream in monsoon – brimming with vital life. While this also meant that the dancer’s enthusiasm got the better of her at times, there was no denying the punch of her creativity in the recital.

‘Sri Vignarajam Bhaje’ in Gambiranattai an Oothukkadu Venkatasubbier composition was a brisk number where one got the first glimpse of Urmila’s commendable araimandi. The central piece was an exposition where the dancer showed both grace and vigour. Where the dancer’s elucidations of sentiments were poised well, the execution of nritta in the ragamaalika lyric did not always go smoothly despite Urmila’s tight control over rhythm.

In its entirety Nityakalyani was a feast for the eyes, the lyric coursing through graceful portrayals of the effulgent Mother goddess. Numerous portraits of the Devi beginning with that of Abhirami Andadi, the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar, the union of Parvathi and Siva were vividly recreated.

With ragas such as Kalyani, Thodi, Khambodi, Sankarabharanam and Bhairavi melding with the jati-sahitya-swara structure, this could easily have turned into a meandering procession. That it did not was due to Urmila’s perceptive hold of the main bhava in the lyric. The churning of the ocean was another segment where the dancer moved from the main events of Siva imbibing the poison to refocus on Devi as ‘garakantuni rani.’

Swamimalai Suresh’s singing and nattuvangam, Dhananjayan’s mridangam beats and Kalaiarasan’s violin essays were a big plus to the performance.

The profundity of a mother’s love was a moving depiction in Kavadi Chindu composed by Annamalai Reddiar. The adoring gaze of the young girl fixed on Krishna formed the axis around which the dancer spun ‘Thottu Thottu Pesugiran,’ a composition of Periasami,Thooran in Behag. Urmila’s dancing depicted the not-so-innocent actions of Krishna as well as the mixed up responses of the maiden.

Thillana in Purvi was a number where the dancer’s moves were driven by inward impulses and melodic music. Andal’s ‘Vayyathu Vazhveergal’ was a harmonious conclusion in keeping with Margazhi.

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Vidya SaranyanDecember 27, 2011