At his recent Bharatanatyam recital in New Delhi, Lokesh Bharadhwaj showed he has come into his own.

A disciple of Justin McCarthy at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Lokesh Bharadhwaj in his Bharatanatyam performance at Stein Auditorium wove the dance round compositions of the Carnatic trinity Muttuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Sastry and Tyagaraja. The invocation was to Shiva in the Muttuswami Dikshitar kriti in Kamboji “Kailasanathena samrakshikoham”, the devotee offering homage at the lotus feet of Shiva, seeking his homage.

The centrepiece of the evening was Shyama Sastry’s swarajati in Bhairavi “Kamakshi Anudinamumaravakare..” which started after a Kalyani prelude comprising the Beejaksharas and verses of Sankaracharya.

Very descriptive, the sahitya sings the praises of Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi, with her moonlike face and compassionate nature — who is addressed through many epithets like Shivashankari, Parameswari and Sree Bhairavi. Justin’s choreography, as rendered by Lokesh, while scrupulous in the word/gesture translation and bodily stances, could have done with more of a bhavaartha flow in places.

Meticulous dance profile was a feature along with a perfect araimandi and full leg and hand stretches. The teermanams composed by Justin in the tough arithmetic, were managed well, though in the Kitataka Tarikita Tom one felt a difference, with a lack of smoothness, the hands not going in a full circle and landing right in front as is usual in Bharatanatyam. One hopes this is not the effect of the Modern Dance Lokesh also practises. Not by any means an easy item for any performer, the dancer’s uninterrupted involvement was praiseworthy.

Tyagaraja’s kriti “Paramatmudu velige...” in Vagadeeshwari raga wonders about the nature of that omnipresent, pervading every aspect of the cosmos, both manifest and non-manifest. The abstract nature of that divinity whose spark ignites all of the universe subtly came through in the performance.


In last week’s column “Domain of the doyens” the dancer Rajashri Praharaj was incorrectly identified as Rajashri Behera. The error is regretted.