Emotional involvement, subtle miming and facial expressions marked Uma Ramesh’s presentation of ‘Thevaram Moovar.’

Thevaram Moovar was a vigorous Bharatanatyam presentation based on the lives of Saivite saints such as Thirugnanasambandar, Thirunavukkarasar and Sundarar, who are collectively revered as Nayanmars. A selection of the ancient verses collated by resource scholar Rama Kausalya interlocked with a good number of theermanams and swaras enabled the dancer to launch her depictions. Fluid musical embellishments set by vocalist Hariprasad, astute dance composition by abhinaya exponent Bragha Bessell furnished Uma worthy resources for her performance.

Following a graceful pushpanjali, Uma began the story of Gnanasambandar who was blessed with the divine vision of Siva and Parvati. The description of the child and the mother goddess was done with sufficient emotional involvement. With a diversity of nadai to usher in changes in scenes, the story took off from the famous verse ‘Thodudaya Seviyan.’ The next Thevaram ‘Madayil Vaallai’ was accompanied by sollu kattus with plenty of verve which also included actions symbolic of piety to retain the bhakti mood. This was a bright start, which was carried forward with confidence.

Subtle miming for Appar’s story conveyed the episode where he suffered severe colic pain. Other actions also brought home the transformation in the saint’s life that signalled an eternal dedication to Siva. Mayamalavagowla accompanied the rhythmical combinations as a prelude to Thunjirul, after which Uma depicted the staunch endurance of his faith that rose above numerous tests set by the wily king. While the saint’s equanimity came through with clarity, lack of coordination with the orchestra pulled down the overall tempo. A.S. Murali, who sang the Thevarams, was no doubt melodic but the other musical patterns in the script were unevenly sung. The efforts of Sasirekha Rammohan’s dignified nattuvangam and mridangam player Vijayaraghavan’s confident essays added strength.

The inherent feeling of angst in the Thevaram ‘Meela Adimai’ that poured from Sundarar’s soul remained underutilised in dance. Perhaps distracted by the bindi which fell off during a bout of vigorous dancing, the devotional aspect in this lyric was only an outline and lacked colour. Rallying in the next strand, Uma adapted to the situation. As a result quick movements and facial expressions depicted the saint’s despair before transiting to the high note of ecstasy sensitively.