Malavika's performance was high on aesthetic appeal.
There is Sringara - the love between a man and a woman, there is Vatsalya - the love of a mother for her child and there is Shringarabhakti - spiritual love. The theme for Malavika Sarukkai's performance was a celebration of love in its various forms, a celebration that was put together with high aesthetic appeal. The opening Nrittanjali had music set in Ragamalika by Meera Seshadri and was developed around verses taken from Kalidasa's Vasant Ritu. Malavika had choreographed it to show Cupid awakening emotions of love in Nature with his arrows. As each musical note was delineated in song, Malavika likened it to a different bird or animal, with the high ‘sa' representing the human. Concepts such as using slow, medium and fast tempos to represent languorous sensuality, desire and passion respectively, were incorporated beautifully into rhythmic sequences, while alap, instrument and percussion provided the musical background.
An arrogant Cupid walked away at the end of the ‘kamakrida' after surveying his handiwork. Malavika's interpretation blended masterfully with the song and the rhythm, with the dance giving form to the music.
The same enjoyment of the music was dominant in the next part of the performance as well, as Malavika launched into a description of a gopi's awe when she realises that the little boy she has punished for stealing butter in her house (‘Antargrihe') is Krishna himself. ‘Bhavayami Gopalabalam,' sung beautifully by Murali Parthasarathy and Sharanya, had the dancer responding to the music and turning the item into a celebration of music.
The final symbolic churning of the heart to produce butter for Krishna was a lovely thought. The magnetism of Krishna's flute drawing the gopis away from their chores as Krishna leads them in a ‘Rasaleela' depicted the Sringarabhakti. With verses from the Srimad Bhagavatham set to music by Sitarama Sarma, Malavika's moving all over the stage to represent the omnipresence of Krishna and the exciting speed in the hint of tillana in the rhythm, created an outpouring of energy.
With a sustained high provided by the percussion (brilliantly essayed by M.S. Sukhi on the mridangam with support from Sai Saravanan on the tabla), Malavika depicted various forms of Krishna -Madhusudana, Kalinganardana, Radhamadhava and so on. The performance was vibrant, though the transcending of the Laukika or material world by the spirit did not quite come through. Malavika had Neela Sukanya firmly wielding the cymbals and exquisite violin accompaniment by Lakshmi Venkatramani that evening. One came away from the performance with the magical sound of fleet-footed Malavika's ankle bells ringing in one's ears.