Lasyotsavam, a three-day programme in Thrissur, witnessed splendid performances by stalwarts

Lasyotsavam, a three-day dance fete in Thrissur, began with Odissi danseuse Ranjana Gauhar's Saraswati Vandana. Set to rag Bhopali and Jati tala, the Sanskrit verses describe the Godess' beauty and her attributes.

‘Jhuki Aaye Badariya', a Meera bhajan in rag Megh, was beautifully depicted by Ranjana. Meera enjoys the rainy weather and admires the dark clouds mistaking them to be Krishna. As she tries to embrace him, she realises her folly. The depiction of the joyous raindrops and the powerful flashes of lightning were impressive.

‘Biti Lata Jamini' is Radha's lament for the absent Krishna. The Thumri-style composition in rag Bhairavi, set to Ektali, enumerates the sufferings of the nayika. This composition was remarkable for its abhinaya.

Grandeur of Kasi

As a tribute to the composer king of Kerala, Ranjana chose a Swati composition in rag Asavari as her last item. The poet urges the mind to go on a pilgrimage to Kasi. The pilgrim is awe-struck by the grandeur of the ‘Lord of the Universe,' Visveswara. The greatness of the ‘three-eyed-Maheswar' and the ‘lotus-eyed-Padmanabha' are celebrated. The dancer's sweeping movements and expansive postures lent dignity to the choreography.

As a senior artiste, Ranjana's perfection and grace are in themselves a lesson for aspiring Odissi performers.

The second day of the festival featured a Mohiniyattam recital by Pallavi Krishnan, the artistic director of Lasya Academy, which had organised the festival.

After the Ganapati stuti, ‘Ekadantam Vandeham,' in raga Begada, Pallavi's choreography depicted Irayimman Thambi's ‘Chendar Sayaka Roopa' about the lovelorn nayika and her endless wait for the beloved. Her friends plead with the hero, describing how listless she is in her chores and how she decks herself in vain for him. The presentation of the virahotkantita nayika was sensitive.

Pallavi's recent creation, ‘Panchabhootas' – a treatise on the five elements – is based on Sankaracharya's ‘Soundaryalahari' and the ‘Taittriya Upanishad.' Pallavi and her group expressed the abstract concept in a subtle, yet perceptible form. The portrayal of the upward movement of the Kundalini through austere practices was a brilliant piece of choreography.

Similarly, the myriad movements in nature such as the falling droplet, undulating waves and the swaying corn were individually and distinctly portrayed. The accompanying dancers were Sheena, Remya, Nimmi and Soumya (all from Kalamandalam).

Nimble footwork

Nirupama and Rajendra of Abhinava Dance School, Bangalore, enchanted the audience with their Kathak performance. The duo opened with a pure dance item, showcasing foot and hand movements and the typical ‘chakkars' of Kathak in varying tempo.

‘Sringara Rama' was a refreshing piece on an unusual theme. Breaking away from the portrayal of Rama merely as a symbol of righteousness or courage, the dance depicted him as a lover. As Sita and her friends arrive at the garden for Gouripooja, Rama and she see each other. It is love at first sight for both, as their eyes meet. The dancers then reflect the joy and love they experience on seeing each other. At the end, propriety returns them to the present.

The highlight of the evening was a dance based on Meera's preoccupation with Lord Krishna. Nirupama explained that it was first choreographed as an extempore presentation in Delhi. The opening montage shows Meera sleeping, lovingly watched by Krishna. As she wakes up and starts her routine, he makes his presence felt, playfully teasing her, remaining invisible. Nirupama and Rajendra enacted these scenes with great sensitivity. Lilting music and expressive abhinaya embellished this item.

They ended their programme with ‘Nigah,' which uses Western and Eastern musical instruments and dance styles. It is the couple's statement about universal love and world peace.

On the final day of the festival, a Kathakali recital enthralled the audience. Senior artistes from Kalamandalam staged the ‘Subhadraharanam' play. Composed by Manthredath Nambudiripad, it chiefly traverses the realm of the set classical pattern.

The opening scene of the marriage of Subhadra and Arjuna was a visual treat. The bright canopy, resounding instruments and shower of petals truly lent a royal ambience.

Arjuna

Krishna affirms that Arjuna is the best match his sister can find, but the warrior has reservations about the stealthy manner in which he is carrying her away. Reassured by his friend, he spends time with his newly wedded wife. Kalamandalam Gopi is renowned for his portrayal of ‘pacha' roles (hero's role). The veteran has been donning the role of Arjuna for 20 years. Yet, Gopi surpassed expectations with his superlative performance. The well-loved lines 'Panchadala Lochana' came alive; equally effective was Subhadra's rejoinder, ‘Mulla Sayaka Tulya Villali.' Balaraman's anger on learning of the abduction was another memorable scene.

Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam lived the role while Kalamandalam Harinarayanan enacted Krishna. Vocal support was rendered by Babu, Vinod and Achuthan (all from Kalamandalam). The chenda and maddalam were played by Kalamandalam Unnikrishnan and Ramdas, respectively.

This performance brought down the curtains on the first festival organised by the Academy.

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