Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan's senior students brought out the poetic beauty of the characters effectively.
'Contrasts and Parallels', presented by abhinaya expert Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan and the Kalakshetra Foundation in memory of art patron
Y.G. Doraiswamy, explored the psyche of heroes and heroines created by famous vernacular poets such as Kshetrayya, Sarangapani, Jayadeva, Dharmapuri Subbarayar, Ghanam Krishna Iyer and others, through Bharatanatyam. The gems from Guru Kalanidhi's repertoire were performed by her senior students Priyadarsini Govind, Jayanthi Subramaniam and Sangeeta Isvaran.
Befitting the occasion, it was a rasa-filled evening, where stillness, mood, and melody flowed unhindered. With clear introductions and unhurried portrayals, the dancers brought every story alive. Guru Kalanidhi's style of interpretation demands a good understanding of the lyric and the protagonist, so the performers are perforce fully in the moment. Movement choreography also plays a role, where the dancers are taught to move on stage and gesticulate unobtrusively, without creating even a ripple in the waters, so to speak.
Contrasting a heroine who wants nothing to do with her love after a long and painful separation in ‘Vadaraka Pove' (Khambodi, Kshetrayya) with another who is longing to be with her love-interest in ‘Kodi Koose' (Saurashtram, Kshetrayya) made for interesting viewing as did the parallel situations when Krishna is rejected by different heroines.
Living the role
Krishna's varying responses were a study in human psychology; in ‘Chitikavesite' (Kalyani, Sarangapani) Krishna is indignant and scornful when his passes are rejected, while in ‘Mamiyam Chalita Vilokya' (Hamirkalyani, Jayadeva) Krishna is filled with remorse when Radha spurns him. There was poetic beauty in the slow unveiling of characters. Priyadarsini's portrayal of a young heroine's enthusiasm to be with Krishna and her annoyance with the rooster that broke up their romantic tryst in ‘Kodi' was delectable as was the sensitive tracing of Krishna's mood from a flirtatious cowherd to a repentant lover in ‘Mamiyam.'
They spoke of a talented artist who is deeply involved in the characterisation.
A simple matter of a dancer finishing a piece and exiting in character was highlighted by Jayanthi's despairing and tearful exit in the opening ‘Vadaraka,' that portrayed a woman lamenting her separation. The moment of discovery in ‘Unnai Thoothu Anuppinen' (Saveri, Ghanam Krishna Iyer) when the heroine realises that the friend she trusted as a messenger to Muruga has betrayed her, when excitement turns to shock and anger was another well-timed delineation.
Sangeetha's Parakeeya nayika (a married woman who longs for another man) in ‘Samayamide Rara' (Behag) was enticing and persuasive while the dignity of a male character, though rebuffed, came through in ‘Chitikavesite.'
The musicians were unobtrusively supportive as well. Led by Indira Kadambi, herself a senior student of Guru Kalanidhi, on the nattuvangam, K.Hariprasad (vocal), T. K. Padmanabhan (violin), Adyar K. Balu (mridangam) and Mahalakshmi (tambura) provided melodic highs through the two-hour slow-spun recital.