Aishwarya Nithyananda laid stress on expression.
'Charming' is one word that might describe Aishwarya Nityananda's Bharatanatyam style but that may not do justice to the dancer's explosive talent in abhinaya or her uninhibited role-play or her graceful nritta. To do justice to this up and coming artist, one needs to say more. Aishwarya, a disciple of Guru Radha Sridhar, from Bengaluru is in her early twenties though she looks a lot younger. There is a disarming freshness in her dance, a rare innocence and a kind of unselfconscious excitement to be on stage. There are no frills in her style and she delivers more than expected with good, honest portrayals.
There is a slant however towards the expressional rather than the rhythmic aspect. Perhaps a choice made to project her strength in this area. The 65-minute Swarajathi ('Ye Mandhayanara,' Huseini, Rupaka - a Mysore Court version of ‘Ye Maayaladira’) had short jathi korvais that were crisp and easy on the ear but it was the sancharis that were given full rein.
With anyone else it might have become a drag, but with Aishwarya it was a pleasure. She maintained the sthayi of a woman in love right through the composition, whether she showed the many, many ways the other woman might have cast a spell on Maharaja Pratapasimha, or whether she's describing the majestic ruler or she is dressing up and choosing her clothes before his visit or she is penning a letter to him or she is calling him a coward. There was always love there, laced with resentment, pride, impatience or annoyance.
There was one moment in the letter writing scene, when she lies down, pen in hand, trying to compose a letter. She looked just like a Ravi Varma portrait! That done, she finds a messenger and gestures to him to go quickly, even waving in farewell. The recital was full of such charming images. The guru ought to be lauded for stressing on the sthayi.
The Andal Tiruppavai, 'Oruthi Maganai' (Behag), too was presented as Andal's words, before, during and at the end of the verse with the dancer dressed as her. This gave the composition more relevance.
The orchestra was also very involved: D.S. Srivatsa (vocal) and K.S. Jairam (flute) gave the dancer the necessary wings to fly, while Praveen Kumar (nattuvangam) and G. Gurumurthy (mridangam) stayed on the ground and guided her with responsive rhythm.