Although Suryanarayana Murthy’s adavus are perfect and nritya vibrant, he needs to integrate the philosophy.

At first glance the precision of bodylines, vigour and command over rhythm formed the assets of Suryanarayana Murthy’s Bharatanatyam. But the key appeal lay beyond these details and arose from the dancer’s comprehensive understanding of the fine arts. He is a disciple of the Dhananjayans and presently a faculty member of Kalakshetra. The performance was held under the Horizon programme of The Indian Council for Cultural Relations at Raga Sudha Hall and organised by Shri Ariyakudi Music Foundation.

In terms of audience composition, there were quite a few young faces among the adult ones and the ambience was low key. The choice of songs presented was eclectic and the orchestral music was pre-recorded with inputs by different vocal and instrumental artists.

The dancer began with ‘Gayiye Ganapathy’ in Valaji and Adi followed by jatiswaram. The latter was a perfect textbook example of delineation of adavus within the korvais.

The 180 degree aligned feet, the mandatory araimandi and straight back underscored the tensile dynamics of the jatiswaram’s place in the margam. Ragas Kalyani, Thodi, Suruti set to Misra Chapu sung by Srikant provided the diversity in melody and aided the balance of power and grace of the artist.

‘Gokula Bala,’ a nrityopaharam in Kalyani dedicated to Lord Krishna, was the lynchpin for the performance. Murthy’s knack in presenting his forte of energetic nritya revitalised the dancing. While the jatis were crisp and dignified, the abhinaya portions ensured dramatic appeal. Rather than swift facial expressions, Murthy’s style of communication employed body language and subtle emotions using the eyes.

It was interesting to see the succinct incidents of Krishna’s life that spotlighted male personalities. Beginning with Vasudeva transporting Krishna to Vrindavan and then Kuchela’s enduring friendship, culminating in imparting the Gita in response to Arjuna’s predicament, the episodes were enacted with flair. While female characters such as the gopikas and Pootana were also included, one sensed more empathy in the portrayal of the masculine identities.

In the anecdote where Krishna steals butter, the naughty boy’s characterisation incorporated more animated emotions than the gopika’s which was cursory in contrast. However, the description of the words ‘Neela Megha Kanna,’ could have added the mesmeric power of Krishna’s beautiful form instead of just using hastas verbatim.

The nattuvangam in the track that had been conducted by Murthy was noteworthy for the nuanced enunciations and steady tempo.

Papanasam Sivan’s composition in Kedaragowla and Adi ‘Ananda Natamidum’ Padam was interspersed with many poses of Lord Nataraja and turned out to be an exact translation of the sahitya, which extolled the dancing feet of the God of Chidambaram. True, there was plenty of action and vibrant dancing, but the interpretation stayed at the pictorial level and did not elaborate the metaphysical connotation of the Ananda Tandavam. Considering that he is currently pursuing his doctorate studies, integrating the philosophy in the composition would have provided a window to showcasing the dancer’s inputs in this regard.

Ragamalika thillana composed by the late veteran Dandayudhapani Pillai, which was featured in a commercial CD with songs by Sudha Ragunathan, was the concluding number.

The peppy set of adavus mirrored the flow of the song and clearly revealed Murthy’s relish in classical dancing.