Bhakti Nritya, Bharatanatya performance by the students of Rajarajeshwari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir, was artistically impressive
Brand name beams with validity and expectations are bound to soar; the same is true of Bharatanatyam when it comes from Sri Rajarajeshwari Bharatha Natya Kala Mandir of Mumbai. It was a delight to dance connoisseurs that the doyen guru, Kalyanasundaram Pillai, chose to accompany his senior disciples to Bangalore and conduct the nattuvangam for their ‘Bhakti Nritya’ an offering of devotion through dance.
The very first thing that catches the eye of a discerning viewer is the group aesthetics as dancers moved skilfully on stage without elbowing each other or giving the impression of a crowd on stage. In a dance performance of the solo format, two is company and three is crowd. However, if it doesn’t seem so, the credit goes to the choreographer.
The rather vacant stage took a festive look with nearly six to seven dancers simultaneously invocating lord Vigneshwara through Ganesha Pancharatnam (Adi Sankara) with well delineated moves and mime. Dr. Padmaja Suresh’s solo ‘Shakti’ invoking mother goddess (Phala Vidham Unnai …) was abhinaya-oriented with sancharis wherein she depicted the goddess in varied postures going by thevaried nomenclature. The focal varnam in Shuddha Dhanyasi, extolling the ‘Mahabharatha nayaka’ was well-designed in terms of choreographic artistry. The initial six dancers, like the ‘goppuchha yati’ in Carnatic music, go on a steady decrease by the twos as the emphasis shifts to expanding of two sequences from Mahabharata, viz. the dice game and disrobing of Draupadi which is executed and enacted by just two or maximum three artistes. The jatis at this point of time were pronounced. The appearance and disappearance of the dancers from stage was done so discreetly that it took the audience by surprise; mark of the guru’s master-strokes. The teermanams executed in three cycles were simplistic, yet rhythmically appealing. The Bhagavad Gita episode enacted to music alone was finesse at its best and the footwork executed to swaram by the six dancers who were back on stage was brilliant. The entire presentation gave one the feel of a school function.
In Tulsidas ‘Ramachandra krupalu’, the artistes launched into Sita Swayamvara and did a good job of it. ‘Krishna nee Begane Baaro’ was done by Sudha as a solo and to her credit, it must be acknowledged that the fleeting picturisation of the dasavatara to the refrain, “Jagadodharaka Namma Udupi Sri Krishna” stood out as testimony of brilliant choreography. The Behag flowed smooth to the tunes of ‘Aadum Chidambarame’ where the group of artistes alternated their positions as the emphasis in the verse shifted from one to another but despite the myriad depictions of Nataraja, it lacked the punch that is usually associated with a Shiva-based piece. The abhinaya for “Komala roopam…” in the penultimate Malayalam song on Krishna was as varied as it was vivid. The presentation rounded off with a tillana set to Hamsanandi where the vigorous jatis in third kalai did not meet with matching footwork.
Guru Kalyanasundaram on the nattuvangam was his usual best with vocalist Ms. Venugopal and Soumya Rajagopalan (violin) complementing one another.