Rama Devi and Ratish presented Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam recitals.
When you have two genres of dance - Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam-presented parallel to each other, well you are bound to juxtapose both and in the process, evaluate their respective merits sans individual performances. As far as the element of dance goes, Bharatanatyam scores above its counterpart here, especially in terms of its synchronisation with tala (count/beat) and its adherence to body discipline.
At no point of time, can you find the artiste loosening grip over the artistic stance- be it while executing the pure dance footwork or the expressive ambulatory movements (sancharis) or just gesticulations and facial expressions (abhinaya). Every move is calculated to its minutest expression leaving no room for lackadaisical approach from any angle whatsoever. Artistic discipline, the core of classicality is mandatory to any dance form that would claim to get into this category. And this is what is precisely and pathetically missing in the present day Kuchipudi dance by artistes other than the ancestral ones. So, a critical appreciation of the form is baffling since the benchmarks have rather stonewashed. Within these limited parameters, let us take a look at the dual show hosted by ICCR and Sai Nataraja Academy at Ravindra Bharati recently.
Rama Devi, a senior-most dancer gave us a presentation in the form of a lec-dem on the Ashtavidha nayikas, the bhava (moods) and the concurrent artistic emotion (rasa). The entire thing, no doubt demands abhinaya as the mainstay, but the dance element need not have taken a total backseat either.
But for gyrations and few jatis that were more of a stress on the nattuvanar’s (Renukaprasad) vocal chords rather than the dancer’s feet. The artiste gave an impressive delineation of the eight nayikas (romantic heroines) like the ‘khandita’, the ‘Uttama’ (like Radha, Rukmini, Sita), with appropriate verses/songs rendered beautifully by Swetha Prasad. Details of women of such a nature, the workings of their mind and manners were portrayed with aplomb. Only we wish, she could have introduced the element of dance to make it even more authentic.
The violin (Kolanka Saikumar) made for an aesthetic opening as Rama Devi went on to depict the navarasa through episodes from Ramayana. Actually, she could have introduced all the nine moods into the first episode of ‘Sita parinayam’ inclusive of Dhanurbhangam to entering Ayodhya. The teacher was more in the forefront than the dancer in Rama Devi but all said and done it was an edutainment. Sridharacharya made a presence with the mridangam.
An ICCR artiste, Ratish with a well-designed costume took the stage in the latter half giving a traditional repertoire beginning with Pushpanjali with the same accompaniment in tow.
The adherence to tala and body kinetics were up to the mark but one had to look out for the very fundamental ‘arai mandi’. The Todi jatiswaram (Maaye, Mayen sodariye…) wherein he depicted the birth of Krishna, later the Meenakshi Kalyanam all in good spirit with good nritta and abhinaya. A little more ease in executing the footwork as well as lesser make-up would go a long way into making him a matured artiste. The potential is very evident despite minor creases. The dance itself scored above its earlier counterpart by way of classicality to say the least.