Graceful movements and quick expressions made Sreelakshmy Govardhanan's depiction of Rama's life more enticing.
As the young Kuchipudi dancer when Sreelakshmy Govardhanan breezed onto the stage for the opening Pushpanjali in a recital presented by Dasya, one was struck by her confidence, grace and liveliness. Performing a style that was brisk, the dancer nevertheless conveyed her skill in rhythm and expression.
Sreelakshmy is a disciple of senior dancer Vyjayanthi Kashi, Bangalore, and T.P. Vasudevan Namboodiri, Kerala. She has also trained under well-known dancer Manju Bhargavee. She is the artistic director of Avanthika Space for Dance, Iranjalakuda. The down-to-earth approach was present in all aspects of the Kuchipudi dance recital. Sreelakshmy's dress was a simple maroon and orange costume, a definite departure from the otherwise richly dressed Kuchipudi dancers. The repertoire too was shorn of the flirtatious ‘talukku minukku' and the resultant lasya that the dance style embodies, was portrayed in the ‘Ardhanareeshwara' piece, but was only in passing to highlight the male and female aspects in the deity.
Instead, there was a 15-minute long Pushpanjali (Simhendhramadhyamam, Adi) to Bhoodevi, the vedas and the art form that was interspersed with fast-paced sollus and followed by a 12-minute run through of Rama's life in the Ramayana Sabdam (Mohanam, eka tala) starting with his encounter with Tataka until his return to Ayodhya after the battle in Lanka. One can imagine then the unrelenting pace of performance. Though the pace was non-stop, Sreelakshmy's stamina did not falter. Every step had the lilt and every light-footed leap had her heel touching her back. And it was not mere athleticism; there was grace in the movements as well. Her expressions were also quick to convey the essence of Rama's life. Sreelakshmy was supported by a skilful set of musicians: K.S.Balakrishnan (nattuvangam), Shaly Krishna (vocal), Jaishankar (mridangam) and Vinodkumar (violin).
The Tarangam in Ragamalika, Adi tala, with the footwork on the rim of the brass plate was dealt with, with the same efficiency. It was commendable what this bright-eyed dancer could do. But Kuchipudi, devoid of the melodrama was like denying its very antecedents, the Andhra Naatya traditions of Yakshagana. One appreciated the dancer, not the dance and certainly not the repertoire.