There was an element of history behind each rare gem that was presented by Hari Krishnan and Srividya Natarajan.
‘Gold,' a Bharatanatyam performance in memory of guru K.P. Kittappa Pillai had unusual pieces presented by dancer-researchers, Hari Krishnan and Srividya Natarajan of Indance, Canada. There was an element of history behind each rare gem that was presented, some of which may never have made it to the proscenium otherwise.
Creative visuals were the order of the day. The lit candles placed around the perimeter of the stage were beautiful, as were the off-white and gold costumes of the dancers. Dynamic movement choreography incorporating techniques such as mirroring, shadowing or using the same movements in different directions, created poetic imagery with the jati compositions of their guru and Mayavaram A.K. Venugopala Pillai in the varnam (‘Sarojakshiro,' Kedara, Adi, Thanjavur Vadivelu) and in the thillana (Mandari, Adi, Thanjavur Ponnaiya).
The duo was a picture of contrast: Srividya, a quintessential Indian beauty who is contained and dignified and Hari Krishnan, an exuberant performer with an exaggerated movement vocabulary that is more earnest and endearing than attractive, complemented each other in their well-rehearsed vibrant movements. But what they did not do is emphasise the sthayi bhava or the mood of the piece. In the varnam for example, the mood was that of love and longing and while the dancers were expressive, they could not hold the emotions as they split each line between them every time. Hence the presentation could not go beyond 'pretty.'
The opening Rudraganika Kauthuvam (Vasantha, Chatusra eka,Tirugokarnam Ramaswami nattuvanar), an openly flirtatious courtesan's javali (‘O Ho Ho Sundaruda,' Bilahari, Narayana Dasa) and an abridged version of ‘Salamache Jinnas Kalpita Katha' on Serfoji Maharaja's court protocol called ‘Johar Johar Ha' (tuned in ragamalika by B.M. Sundaram) were the others that had been unearthed by the researchers.
The javali by Srividya was given perfunctory attention as the woman mocked the sexual prowess of Krishna of Jagannadhapura. Hari Krishnan's uninhibited role-play brought him enthusiastic applause as he described the salutations offered by visitors from various regions. The excellent music was provided by Girija Ramaswamy (vocal), Sikkil Balasubramanian (violin), flute (G.Nataraj), Karaikudi K.Sriram (mridangam) and L. Subhasri Ravi (nattuvangam).