Moulding the Krishna Ashtakam (108 names in praise of Lord Krishna) to depict four events of the Bhaghavatam was a well-conceived leitmotif which also depicted the four rasas (artistic moods) of vatsalya (Shringara), bheebatsa, veera and shantha (universal peace). Senior dancer Rajeswari Sainath, as vigorous as ever with her numeric and nritta, displayed another aspect, in keeping with her maturity as an artist. And this was her abhinaya.
She put her best to the fore be it in nurturing little Krishna as foster mother Yashoda (to the first few lines of the ashtakam) with emphasis on adorning the little one with choicest jewellery from top to toe and the maternal love of viewing her child contently, the hide-and-seek game; the vile makeover of the demonic Poothana into a seemingly guileless surrogate mother and the petrified after-effect of being bitten to pain and death by the suckling baby Krishna; the tumultuous, all-consuming torrential rain that wreaks havoc on Gokula’s human and animal life, were well-depicted creating an effect to that extent with proper lighting too, extol Rajeswari’s dexterity of dealing with multi-various responses and feelings.
At certain spots, like the flush of jatis to brilliant footwork delineation as at the lines, ‘ayo nija kanja lochana…’ where minute pauses lent for the emphatic element, the excellent score of the percussion (Karra Srinivas, Srikanth ) to the chariot running on the battle field of the Mahabharata war and finally being drawn to a halt on being strategically positioned-such details were really commendable.
Chander Rao on the violin made a presence with a solo to which Rajeswari mimed the Bhagavad Gita with sancharis boosting the morale of the valiant Arjuna. The Vishwaroopa darshan was also a little creative with the soloist donning both the roles of the mighty lord rising to his full height and a belittled human like the awe-struck Arjuna down on his knees in obeisance. Venkatesh’s venu (flute) cooed melodic notes in keeping with the Krishna theme. Sangeetha Kala was good throughout but for the tillana where the pauses of the vocalist in keeping with her tala went for statuesque poses by the group of dancers which looked quite odd for a tillana.
Not that the presentation was entirely flawless. The depiction of ‘Sanatana’ (describing Krishna who is timeless) as a little boy — in view with the anecdote of Yashoda-Krishna that was to follow — was not expected of a senior dancer; at least not in the first few refrains.
The group tillana which wrapped up the show should have been crisp and energetic. Instead it dragged with avoidable pauses. Earlier, the pupils (tiny tots to teenagers) showcased the fundamentals of a Pushpanjali followed by a Jatiswaram. The basic principle of Bharatanatyam is the stance — the arai mandi and the ‘yatho hastha thatho drishti’. Both these elements were missing, hence the display of gestures and footwork appeared more of calisthenics. The tiny tots, made a cute combination. Ravindra Bharathi proved too big a platform for one-year-old dance school Vyshnavi Academy of Arts to showcase its toddler dancers.