Narthaki chose poems involving yogic beliefs, life-values as well as the woman poet’s wait for the beloved.

‘Sutta Pazham,’ a recital by the gifted dancer, Narthaki Nataraj, for ‘The Mad and Divine’ festival, offered choice selections from the treasure trove of Tamil literature. The concept drew upon the works of the Avvaiyars or women poets. Their sublime poetry covers a stupendous range of the different aspects of life -- from didactic detachment to passionate outbursts of the soul.

Narthaki chose poems involving yogic beliefs, life-values as well as the woman poet’s wait for the beloved. The dancer’s confident handling transformed the subject into a session of stimulating Bharatanatyam.

The dancer had sourced songs from Vinayagar Agaval, Aathichoodi, Purananooru and Mooturai, to frame the elucidations.

An intriguing part of the choreography was the portrayal of different age groups and personalities for the women composers. While the popular notion of the Avvaiyar Paati, the affectionate grandmotherly figure, was not left out, Narthaki also illustrated the merry lady who was as much at home with kings as with the common folk and a woman with strong feelings.

The dancer’s depiction of Vinayagar Agaval in ragamalika was a homage to the elephant god. She also transcribed the symbolism of the centres of kundalini shakti before summing up the vision granted to the poet. Despite weighty ideas, the brisk dancing to ragas such as Kapi and Mohanam rendered by vocalist Roshini and Pandainallur Ratnasubhramaniam’s able nattuvangam created a positive ambience.

Narthaki employed humour as a handy tool for homilies to the stomach, the futility of hoarding money and sage advice about the passing on of loved ones. The ‘vaankozhi’ mimicking the peacock had sarcasm thrown in good measure.

The generosity of King Adhyamaan and his true friendship with Avvai formed the basis for the next lyric. Here, the dancer’s inputs came in the form of her characterisation of the poet. One could discern the level of friendship between the King and Avvai by the dancer’s nuanced repartees. Coming after some deep concepts, Narthaki’s dance in Behag exploited another facet of Tamil literature with vivacity here.

The dancer delved into ancient Sangam poetry set in Neethimati for the Sringara sentiment. This was a hot blooded presentation where deep longing of the poet was described with clarity. The withering of desire and youth was done with due command over the eyes and body.

Thillana in Khamas with inclusion of ‘Annaiyum Pithavum’ was a fitting conclusion.

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Vidya SaranyanDecember 27, 2011