Sathvikaa Shankar’s style reflects discipline and intense training.
One is reminded of a sculpture coming to life when one sees Sathvikaa Shankar performing Bharatanatyam. Economy of movement, a perfect elbow and a taut body together create the chiselled effect. And when these beautiful movements cease, there is a softness of expression that takes over to complete the pretty picture.
Sathvikaa's style reflects discipline and intense training. She is a disciple of well-known teacher-choreographer Anita Guha, who has a reputation of moulding young dancers into professionals. Her dance school, Natyanjali, is incidentally turning 20 this year.
Sathvikaa's performance for Kartik Fine Arts was a well-rehearsed and well-crafted display of skill. The sringara padavarnam (‘Swamiyai Azhaithodi Vaa,' navaragamalika, Adi, K.N. Dandayuthapani Pillai) was demanding on the musicians with the constant change of raga, but it was demanding on the dancer as well because it was choreographed so tightly and without a break. While the choreography (Anita) had many interesting ideas woven into it, one felt inadequate to savour them since everything moved so fast.
The opening theermanam, for example, despite boasting excellent timing and movements, was over fast. In another instance, in the anu pallavi, ‘Thamadham Yeno...' (Vasantha), the description of Nature during spring was so beautiful with the lovebirds, the deer and the peacocks frolicking, one wished one could have savoured them slowly.
Similarly, in the charanam, ‘Sada Ninaivu…' (Sankarabaranam), the choreographer had juxtaposed the majestic Siva and the coy nayika alternately underlining the romantic context so subtly. But the most beautiful of them was the last ettugada sahitya, ‘Gangai Cadaimudi' (Bhairavi) that brought alive the magnificent scene of the Siva Tandava through nritta and abhinaya imaginatively. Through these myriad moments, one felt one was gulping good filter coffee!
The padams, ‘Ada Hodalle' (ragamalika, Rupaka, Purandaradasa) and ‘Omkara Karini' (Lavangi, Adi, Dr. Balamuralikrishna) had the in-built precision that is part of Anita's style. While in the former, Krishna's lament about his friends teasing him was enjoyable with good role play by the dancer, the harsh cymbals and the bang-bang style percussion of the latter while projecting Shakti drowned out any bhava. The latter had been choreographed by Mohiniyattom dancer Gopika Varma and adapted to Bharatanatyam by Anita. After this noise overdose, the tillana (Sindhubhairavi, Adi, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer) sounded tuneful and restful!
The musical team consisting of Anita (nattuvangam), Shakthivel Muruganandam (mridangam), Ramesh (flute), Shankar (violin) and Randhini (vocal) was cohesive. The instrumentalists were particularly tuneful though one felt they could have been more supportive as the vocalist switched ragas during the varnam.