Manjari’s programme premiered a varnam composed by C.V. Chandrasekhar.
Manjari, daughter and disciple of illustrious Gurus Jaya and Prof. C.V. Chandrasekhar, is a mature dancer. She seems to intuitively relate to complex rhythms but needs to condition her body to present the adavus and friezes in better light.
There were some interesting adavus Manjari had incorporated into a recital that was completely 'designed' by her. In the opening Anjali to Tejas (Saraswathi, Adi, Bhartrihari-Niti Shataka), a full mandi adavu with the back to the audience opened out in an expansive gesture into a standing Sama Pada as if unveiling light or luminescence. In the thillana (Dharmavathi, misra chapu, M.S. Shekar) the mei adavus had a different 'look' about them with a Manipuri-like bent knee stance with the hands crossed over in Dola hasta. The lengthy kuditha mettu adavus used elsewhere in that composition, however, were not appealing.
The recital premiered a Varnam composed by Prof. Chandrasekhar ('Kanavu Naan Onre Kandaen,' Ritigowla, Adi) centred on a heroine in love with Krishna. The theermanams, composed by the maestro and visualised by his daughter, were expectedly complex but they sailed through them with ease. The use of clever pauses in the third theermanam and the subsequent misram theermanam were the most memorable.
The lyrics in poetic Tamil were straightforward with the heroine telling her friend about her dreams of Kannan. Manjari's demonstration of how the musical instruments send her into a dream state in the second pallavi line, 'Manadhil udhita karpanai' was interesting and realistic. The second half of the varnam sparkled with vibrant swara visualisations and even more colourful arudis that contained the essence of the sahitya in them. It was a pity that Jyothismati (vocal) was not in form that day.
The Gopalakrishna Bharati kriti 'Idhu Dano Tillai Sthalam' (Behag, Adi) encapsulates the bhakti and pathos of the character along with awe, disbelief and joy. It was brave of Manjari to take this up. While she was very involved and sensitive throughout the piece, an imperceptible nod in the end when she acknowledged the end of the bhakta's search for God, revealed her true depth.
The silence of the piece was well-maintained by the skilful orchestra headed by Prof. Chandrasekhar (nattuvangam). He was ably supported in the rhythmic compositions by Nagarajan (mridangam). Flute Sashidhar's active involvement made a big difference that evening.