Mudra 2010 featured some of the best classical dancers in India who mesmerised the audience with their perfection and aesthetics.

The seventh edition of Mudra 2010, a festival dedicated to pure Indian classical dance, had exquisite performances by exponents of various dance forms. The aesthetic environs of Vylloppilly Samskriti Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram came alive with rasikas, aspiring dancers, reputed danseuses and teachers.

The festival opened with an Odissi recital by Sujatha Mohapatra, a disciple of the renowned Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She commenced with a Mangalacharan, a typical piece in Odissi that marks the dancer's entry on stage. She then moved on to a ‘pallavi' in raga Hamsadhwani.

Sujatha is an uncommon aggregate of talent and grace and the dancer strictly adheres to her guru's style and vision.

The abhinaya piece in raga Mishra kafi, Roopak taal, explored a verse by Banamali, an Oriya devotional poet. Sujatha's flexible movements and captivating expressions gave the audience a clear picture of Lord Krishna's pranks, as depicted by the poet. She performed ‘Ardhanaareeswara' as the final piece of her recital.

Priya Venkataraman followed with an impressive Bharatanatyam recital in the second slot of the first day. The centre piece of her recital was a Raagamalika varnam, a composition of Ponnaih Pillai of the Tanjore Quartet. Priya neatly depicted the heroine's agony on account of her separation from Lord Brihadeeswara, the presiding deity of Tanjore. The ‘Ashtapadi' in raga Vaasanthi was another memorable piece, in which the sakhi describes Radha's plight and begs Krishna to return to her.

Diverse emotions

The second day of the festival saw an interesting Mohiniyattam by Krishnakumar P.N., an up-and-coming dancer. ‘The dance of the enchantress' was surprisingly perfect in the hands of a male dancer who courageously chose a dance form mostly handled by women.

A student of Guru Kalamandalam Kshemavathy, Krishnakumar presented the choreographies of his guru. A varnam in raga Vrindavanasaranga, showcased the anguish and uncertainly of Kunthi, who is forced to give up her firstborn, Karna, while an Ashtapadi, comprising select lines from different Ashtapadis from the Gita Govindam, gave a glimpse of the seven sringara nayikas (Sapta Nayika).

The other dancer of the day was Sheejith Krishna, a faculty of Kalakshetra, Chennai, who presented an energetic Bharatanatyam recital with ‘Kalabhairavaashtakam' in Hamswadhani as the commencing piece. This was composed by Adi Shankarachaarya in praise of the Kalabhairava of Kasi. A varnam in raga Misra Sivaranjini on Madurai Meenakshi exhibited Sheejith's confidence and outstanding control over rhythm.

Mohiniyattam exponent Methil Devika and Kathak danseuse Monisa Nayak stole the hearts of the audience on the third day of the festival. The cholkettu set in ragas Arabhi, Reetigowla and Mohanangi, which also included verses from Soundaryalahiri, gave a sprightly start to Devika's recital. This danseuse mesmerised the audience with her form and serene movements from the beginning to the end. ‘Krishanavataram' saw Devika detailing the changes in man and nature before and after of the birth of Lord Krishna.

Impeccable portrayal

She chose to present a Swati Tirunal kriti as a varnam, which portrays the heroine in virahotkhandita and khandita states.

Devika's recital concluded with a padam, an adaptation of Swami Narayan Theerthar's ‘Krishna Leela Tharangini,' which showcases the conversation between Krishna and Gopika. Devika impeccably portrayed the Gopika's plea to the Lord, requesting him not to send her back as she finds her home as ‘ferocious' as a forest in his absence.

Monisa Nayak, an accomplished Kathak performer of Jaipur Gharana, began her performance with ‘Surya stothram.' In the presentation of teen taal, a rhythmic execution with syllables of percussion in the rhythmical cycle of 16 beats, she scored with her admirable control over rhythm. She closed the recital with a ‘Thumri' that marvellously highlighted the romance and everlasting love of Radha and Krishna.

The penultimate day of the festival gave rasikas in the capital city a golden opportunity to watch Vinitha Nedungadi and Rajeswari Sainath shining on the stage with their Mohinyattam and Bharathanatyam recitals respectively.

The captivating piece of Vinitha's recital was ‘Poothapattu,' an in-depth adaptation of Edassery's ‘Poothapattu.' A mother's efforts to retrieve her child from a demon and the evolution of motherly affection to humanity was perfectly brought to the fore. An excellent choreography by Vinitha, the item stood out for her skilful abhniya.

A varnam in Raga Valachi, the main item of Rajeswari Sainath's recital, was about the Goddess Sakthi, painting her various attributes as Kanchi Kamakshi, Kasi Visalakshi, Madurai Menakshi and Kali. The piece was a well-balanced mixture of pure dance and emotive content.

The closing day of the Mudra fest featured a vibrant Kuchipudi performance by Yamini Reddy and a rhythmic Kathak recital by Sharmishta Mukherji. Daughter of Kuchipudi exponents Raja and Radha Reddy, Yamini left the audience spell-bound with her agile movements and postures during her portrayal of the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. Another notable piece was Swati's Thillana in raga Dhaneshri. This was choreographed in Kuchipudi for the first time by her parents.

Saharmishta Mukherji started off with a serene Shivastuthi. She breezed through a ‘Shudhnritya,' in which the danseuse explored the various rhythmic patterns of teen taal. This was followed by an abhinaya piece, which again revealed her virtuosity in the handling of expressions. The festival was organised by the Department of Culture, Government of Kerala in association with Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan.