The arithmetic was accurate; the abhinaya was accordingly activated as per the demands of the composition, be it the lengthy varnam with its varied rasa or the song on Sri Ranganatha wherein the entire Ramayanam was enacted in a nutshell or the Kavadichindu, danseuse Santosh G Nair had it all. Right from the word go, the dancer showed her attention to technical details, never missing the talam even by a split second. In fact, there was no room for slips or lapses. Energetic and assertive with her footwork, she showed her mastery over the skill in the Swamiye alaizhi thodi vaa set to navaragamalika. At certain points through the lengthy varnam, her abhinaya was credible especially when she squats down to emote for the line, tamadhi mukhamu as also the folding and chewing of betel leaf with élan was quite convincing. By the same token, the abhinaya to tedi, tedi (search) line could have been worked out with a little more eye language. The varied stances of Lord Shiva portrayed with superb balancing power and her utilisation of the entire stage space was laudable. The artistic pauses in the Sri Ranganatha song especially at the line, Kaushikan shol where the episode of Rama readying to let go his arrow and the abhinaya to eeshan illai need a special mention.Sita kalyana vaibhogamesancharisadavusvarnamhaava-bhaavabhava
Like in most Carnatic music concerts, where the second half comes into a more relaxed and emotive output after the stringent, strenuous gamakam-oriented display, so too Santosh eased a wee bit towards Samayamidhe na swami which was out and out abhinaya centric. Here, she could have let go of herself instead of the restraint she was exhibiting in every move of her mukhabhinaya. A discerning eye could sense this self-discipline thwarting the emotion. As usual the vocalist stole the show with his superb rendition. The spritely ‘Kavadichindu’ is a quaint piece which is not often done, at least here, hence it was a pleasure to watch. Kudos to the gurus who were continuing with the traditions of the past and not relegate antique items to the back-burner. The only snag was that almost all the songs were Tamil-centric for a Ravindra Bharathi audience. Dance appreciation is inevitably linked to understanding the language of the lyric which here was only partial with part viewers. With a little more effort on the emotive front and body language, Santosh can go a long way with her expressive eyes and energy.
Never could the accompaniment dominate a dance performance than this one. Guru Manjula Ramaswamy’s stylistic nattuvangam as always was compelling. The clarity in uttering the longest series of jatis is a marvel in itself. To top this, vocalist Hariprasad turned out to be the star performer of the day with his mellifluous rendition. The ease with which she shifted to the nine ragas in the varnam was superb. The refrain sadaa ninaivu kondein which is the ending note turned out to be simply excellent. His tone and tenor compelled the audience to look in the direction of the accompanying artists’ dais on and off with silent appreciation. So was the mridangam player guru Bharathwaj with his steady, commanding percussion. Violinist Sai Kumar Kolanka seemed to have drawn inspiration from the stalwarts on the dais and gave his best. The dance performance was put up by Rasamayi and Sri Rama Nataka Niketan of gurus V. S. Ramamoorthy and Manjula Ramaswamy at Ravindra Bharathi.