Hariprasad’s involved viruttam singing of Bharatiyar’s ‘Om Om Ena Periyorgal’ paying obeisance to the nirguna quality of the soul, concluded on a note of Kalyani, enabling dancer N. Srikanth to smoothly step in from interpretation of the abstract to Jatiswaram in the same raga.
The dancer’s rendition illustrated the architectonic nritta designing based on a musical composition of solfa passages in this genre of the margam, which is fast disappearing from the concert format.
The high point of the performance was the varnam in Nattakuranji ‘Karunai Nee Seyya Vendume’, a composition of Dandayudapani Pillai, the singer introducing it in style with an alap overture. Srikanth’s Bharatanatyam carries the blended essences of Bharata nrittam imbibed from years of training under Padma Subrahmaniam with Bharatanatyam learned under different gurus. So too his ability for donning the stree vesham in Bhagavata Mela Natakam productions has not in any way coloured the tone of his solo energy as a male dancer.
Both the yearning of Nandanar for a glimpse of Shiva in Chidambaram in the varnam and also the rhythmic versatility of the Jati interludes were brought out with the finesse of a complete dancer. The music accompaniment was fully supportive – though Harikrishna with his undeniable musical expertise, would do well to perfect his enunciation in places where sakala becomes sagala and paalaka comes out as Baalaga.
Srikanth’s choreography with feel for the fractional time intervals between tala beats with foot contact avoiding a comfortable chiming with the Sollu and beat every time, along with a mix of speeds slow and fast, makes the jati portions scintillating. His involvement in the emotive part from the opening statement flowering into narrative elaborations of Lord Nataraja coming to the rescue of bhaktas to the final prayer ‘Pirandaal Perum Payanai Perave Vendume’ in the charanam line, brought out the best in the dancer.
The high formality of the varnam and an item based on a lyric from the folk tradition were fine contrast in tones.
The composition in a light folk tone underlines the larger issue of class and caste tensions. Srikanth’s dance treatment was in line with the music. From here to the Kashetrayya padam ‘Rama Rama Prana Sakhi’ was another contrast and the dancer’s abhinaya to a slow moving Bhairavi holding each moment in stillness was somewhat punctured by otherwise competent mridangam player Vijayaraghavan’s interventions of over enthusiastic rhythmic flourishes. The Balamurali Behag tillana made for a perfect finish to a memorable recital.