Her performance was powerful that Priyadarshini Govind made you a part of the experience.
The most challenging task for a rasika watching Priyadarshini Govind is to label her Bharatanatyam style... Is it traditional? Or is it different? Is her nritta geometric? Or is it rounded? The answers will be a resounding yes for all, for she is beyond slotting.
Every moment is fraught with surprise; this is the genius of her creativity. She finds the space to innovate within the traditional framework and makes it look so simple.
Her creativity leaves little untouched; adavu korvais are crafted to take on a chiselled effect, their lines and curves dovetailing into sculpture-like imagery, the timing and the finishes are razor sharp and hence dramatic, varnam charana swaras are executed with no gaps like an undisturbed whole, thattu-mettu sequences become multi-levelled and multi-paced... The credit also belongs to the involved timekeepers, Balakrishnan (nattuvangam) and Shaktivel Muruganandam (mridangam) who bring every dream finish to fruition.
But the most special of Priyadarsini's art is an untouched inner core, as if movement that emanates from within returns to its centre.
There is bhava and depth in every movement, so there is a sense of being with the movement at every point.
Priyadarsini's depth of bhava was exemplified by the devotional verse from the Shyamala Dandakam, ‘Manikya veenaam' (Kalyani) that preceded the Khamas daru varnam ‘Maathe' (Adi, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar).
The ode to Goddess Meenakshi took on new meaning as devotion and awe drenched every phrase in the verse.
This depth continued into the varnam. What was most striking was the maintenance of the sthayi; after every sanchari, the dancer came back to the quiet silence of prayer with the Anjali hasta before proceeding further. It gave definition to the piece and a sense of continuity.
In the pallavi, the visualisation of Meenakshi's birth, her meeting with Siva and the heart-warming family picture in the tanam sequence was brought forth skilfully as was the beauty of ‘Sankari' and the ferocity of ‘Chamundeshwari' in the anu pallavi.
Every word came alive as the dance soared on the wings of soulful music.
Preethy Mahesh (vocal) added lustre to Kalyani and Khamas with her bhava-laden music. She was supported well by Sikhamani (violin), whose ‘Vishamakaara Kannan' in an adaptation of Chenchurutti, was unbelievably inspiring.
The dancer presented three abhinaya pieces: ‘Paiyada Paimeda' (Nadanamakriya, Kshetrayya), a Nindastuthi (‘Yedukku Ithanai Modi,' Suruti, Marimutha Pillai) and ‘Vishamakaara Kannan' (Oothukadu Venkata Kavi). The first was the pick of the evening.
Priyadarsini was seated during this portrayal, so it was just her expressions and mudras that did the talking. The nayika is in despair because of Muvvagopala's sudden indifference and relives the time when he could not bear to be apart from her. Every orchestra member contributed to the poignant mood, even the mridangam player added a sympathetic touch.
Priyadarsini closed with an unusual tillana (Purvi, Rupakam, Thirugokaranam Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar). A thunderous applause and a standing ovation followed.
Not surprising considering that one cannot remain unmoved in her performance; she makes you a part of the experience.