Sirisha Shashank could have worked on visualisation more.
It was refreshing to see a dancer who has matured over the years. Sirisha Shashank's Bharatanatyam recital revealed a dancer whose style has evolved
into a softer and deeper version. Her arm movements have moved away from their unrelenting sharpness and are now tempered with grace. Her expressive
ability is warmer and more well-defined as well. She has had illustrious tutors over the years: Gurus Radha Sridhar, Narmadha, Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar and Priyadarsini Govind.
The compositions she presented that evening were largely bhakti-oriented except the Kshetrayya padam ('Choodare,' Sahana) that dealt with a social
situation. The best parts were in the latter half where good music and sensitive abhinaya came to the fore. The padam and Purandaradasa's kriti
'Jagadodharana' (Kapi, Adi) brought out the spirit of the scandalised village-women in the first and Yasoda's joy in her son Krishna in the second. The first was performed with a naturally gossipy tone while the second was notable for the smooth transitions between the narrator and the mother-son scenes.
The varnam ('Mathe,' Khamas, Adi, Muthiah Bhagavathar), devoted to Meenakshi, was musically enjoyable with Sushanth's full-throated singing and the beautiful melody provided by Sunil Bhaskar (violin) and Anantha Narayanan (veena). With a capable nattuvanar in dancer Venkatakrishnan and an accurate mridangam vidwan in Karthik Ramanathan, Sirisha executed the jatis (composed by Guru Narmadha and mridangist G. Vijayaraghavan) with confidence and agility.
But its overall effect suffered because of insufficient thought given to the presentation. The lyrics could have been brought out with more warmth and this was felt in the anupallavi line, 'Shatodhari...' The killing of Chanda and Munda, to a verse from the Mahishasura Mardhini sloka, fell flat without sufficient dramatic inputs from the dancer or musicians. Similarly,in the charana swaras that were enjoyable on their own, the gaps between successive swaras loosened the fabric of the piece and after a point it seemed to just unravel on its own.
The thillana (Hindolam, Khanda ekam, Dhandayuthapani Pillai) scored on brisk nritta and good music. A presentation's success has everything to do with responsive musicians and good visualisation. Good dance is simply not enough.