Graceful, flexible and expressive, Roshni Raju shows plenty of promise.

Untiring in the peak of summer, promising Kuchipudi dancer Roshni Raju demonstrated the effect of a vivacious personality on an already fast-paced repertoire to present a dynamic show. The dancer is a disciple of Uma Muralikrishna and is one of art promoter A. Boothalingam’s ‘finds,’ who was given a platform in the recently concluded ‘Vasant Utsav 2012’ held at the Kapaleeswarar temple.

Though Roshni maybe relatively new on the performance scene, there is no awkwardness or dearth of confidence in her style. She is graceful, flexible and expressive and has an instinctive sense of timing. With a well-rehearsed repertoire, she was able to make the most of the informal performance space to draw in the weekend crowd at the temple.

The most ambitious of her presentations was not the Ananda Thandava kriti (Simhendra Madhyamam, Adi, Madurai Muralidharan, translated by Ramanujam) that had enough rhythm to pose a challenge, but the Jayadeva Ashtapadi, ‘Sancharadhara’ in ragamalika, that drew on her ability to mime poetry. Krishna’s heroine Radha is hurt when she sees him with the gopis of Vrindavan, yet is unable to forget their tender moments together. Roshni captured Krishna’s flirtations, Radha’s pain and their amorous past vividly, linking the scenarios with good timing and clarity.

The stories of Ravana’s intense prayer to Siva in ‘Ananda Tandavam’ and Krishna’s pranks in ‘Veshamakaara Kannan’ (Chenchuruti, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyar) came through as logical mime sequences, with the moods mixed in the right proportion.

While the dancer can work on tidier finishes in her footwork, her timing was exemplary. She and B.P. Haribabu (mridangam) were in perfect synchrony all evening. Uma nattuvangam’s was sometimes perfunctory, sometimes central as in the Kalinga Nathana thillana (Gambhira Nattai, Adi, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyar), but she would benefit with more practice with voice modulation and the cymbals.

The musicians gave a fillip to the performance with B. Muthu Kumar (flute) and V.L. Narayana (veena) rating very high in their involvement. Vocalist Sahana Sankaran impressed with her sweet voice and clear diction; the shaky moments came only during the ragamalika piece.

Uma has developed a linear version of the folksy and sensuous art form, which is a pity. While the Siva Tandava piece had some interesting visualisation as in the depiction of Siva as Kalamurthy in the ensuing swara phrases with different emotions and musical instruments, the thillana was aurally and visually bald.

Man with a mission

A. Boothalingam, retired GM and Deputy Controller, RBI, is a musician in his own right. Having learnt Carnatic music from stalwarts such as Kittamani Bhagavathar, D.K. Jayaraman and K.V. Narayanaswamy, Boothalingam has given music performances in sub-senior slots during the December Season. He has even sung for a Bharatanatyam recital (Shreelatha Suresh, 1993).

During the 1991 season, he donned the role of a music and dance critic for The Hindu. For nine years, Boothalingam has been running the Saraswathi Educational Cultural and Charitable Trust that presents the Vasant Utsav at the Kapaleeswarar temple every May.

Up and coming dancers are identified by him and given performance opportunities, while senior artists are honoured. The 2012 edition, dedicated to the founder Indira Garyali, presented 12 performances and honoured cultural promoter Cleveland V.V. Sundaram, dancers Gopika Varma and Meenakshi Srinivasan, and Vedic pundits Nannilam V. Rajagopala Ganapadigal and Siddhan Vazhoor Trivedi G. Rajagopala Sastrigal.

Boothalingam retires this year and one would like to place on record his immense contribution to the field of art and culture. May his tribe increase!