Veteran dancer Sarala Kumari’s Kanyaka, also a Gurajada creation, was picturesque with props but with minimal dance elements. However, it should be acknowledged, to Sarala’s credit, that her expressions through varied dance gesticulations and mukhabhinaya mirrored her maturity as an artiste. What really was lacking was a proper footwork to call it a dance ballet (roopakam). There were only two characters: a lustful king and a virtuous girl. The dancer looked her best in white, gold tinged with red costume and seemed always on the move covering the entire stage, never calling for a halt till the second character entered the scene. A backdrop displaying a palace gives us to believe, that it is the king who has been smitten by the beauty of this girl and wants to possess her. She, in turn, asks him to marry her. His regal ego takes a beating but he agrees to do so. Suddenly, the girl turns wrathful, there’s a make-believe fire burning and she gets into it! It was a bit too dramatic, the sequence of events: the girl swerving like the fierce goddess Durga, lunging at the lecherous king and vowing to finish him in her profound wrath. This was to underline the stree shakti (feminine power) which would brook no force or power of an unjustified sort and would do anything to combat it. The final self-sacrifice after all the show of valour by the heroine was a volte-face.
The artiste who enacted the role of the king, didn’t seem like a dancer and did precious little except walk up and down wearing regal clothes. Sarala Kumari, despite good looks and physique, had a stiff gait and gestures that was quite evident to the onlookers. The pre-recorded music was good with no hiccups.
This 20-minute dance was part of Gurajada’s 150th Jayanthi celebrations held at Ravindra Bharathi.