Alekhya Punjala's graceful performance showcased her strength in abhinaya.
As titled aptly,Keeirtana kadambam was an admixture of traditional classical kritis/kirtanas formatted to Kuchipudi dance style by senior danseuse Alekhya Punjala. Most of these songs were not composed keeping dance in mind. Even when adapted to the rhythmic structure of dance, it had little in them to merit anything but abhinaya or mere expressive moves.
Alekhya, who has taken to the stage after a hiatus, looked attractive in a beautifully carved out hairdo and costume.
Darting looks, statuesque postures and graceful movements have been her forte all through. The Mahaganapatim manasa smarami (Swami Dayananda Saraswati's composition in raga Soorya and Thillang) had a balance of nritya and pronounced hasthabhinaya with sanchari which was well delineated. When it came to the Dikshitar and Sadasiva Brahmendra kritis, Ardhanareeswaram in Kumudakriya raga andPibare Rama rasamin Chakravakam respectively, there was a grey area in getting the inner meaning in terms of dance.
Despite being adept at abhinaya, Alekhya's expression ataagamadi sannutha(one venerated by the Agamas and Vedas) was enigmatic to the observer. The Ardhanareeswara was explained through postures as a fusion of Shiva and Shakti - a rather macho expression alternately offset by a coy one; the dancer could have gone a step further in one of the verses to explain the universality of this dual identity with her creative expressiveness. A visual medium, more than a vocal concert, is best suited to explain Dikshitar in detail. What little nritta/ jatis this piece could afford, were embossed into the song, but a series of salaam daruvus definitely don't constitute the beginning and ending of a series.
Pibare Rama rasamanother esoteric song, not very conducive to dance, was executed through extensive abhinaya/mime to the lines,janana marana bhaya shoka vidooramwherein the term ‘janana' (birth) was delinked from the next word ‘marana' (death) and enacted in great detail: the birth of a child, the mother's endless joy in feeding, rocking, playing, educating the child, to see him grow into an adult, to take him gently into the second phase of life, i.e. marriage and later the separation from the loving son due to circumstances, the suffering thereof. The paradox of death and consequent loss, loneliness Alekhya excelled in expressing these emotions with an air of artistic maturity. This line carries greater depth of meaning when the two contrasting conditions are juxtaposed, which strikes a discerning viewer.
Swati Tirunal's compositionAaye Giridharwas presented with an expression of romantic abandon throughout. If it is not too much to ask, can our senior dancers testify their seniority in the field by varied gesticulations (hasthabhinaya) whenever the song gets into a refrain instead of repetitive abhinaya? Creativity establishes an artiste's maturity.
Kanakam Chandra Rao seemed an animated vocalist while Karra Srinivasa Rao had precious little to do on the nattuvangam front. percussionist Vinod Kumar was rather subdued, while V.B.S. Murali on the flute and Kolanka Sai on the violin were more vociferous.