The concluding day of SICA's dance fest did not live up to expectations.

The concluding day of SICA's dance fest was something not expected of such a prestigious cultural organisation. Surely, SICA members and other regulars deserved a better treat.

Welcome sign

It is a welcome sign to offer a platform to showcase up and coming artistes, provided their testimonials are creditworthy.

Mediocrity can be forgiven in monthly concerts because basically it enables artistes to overcome stage fear and hone their skills. But an annual festival truly merits the best in the field, keeping in mind the expectations of the audience and also reputation of the organisation. The dual show, Kuchipudi Nritya Vibhavari by Nitya Subha Prada and Bharatanatyam by Shruti Jain marked the end of Sica fest as also hope of high calibre performances in future.

Nitya Subha Prada opened her repertoire to no accompaniment seating to the left of the stage; viz. she decided to do away with live and instead opted for a recorded performance.

Airy footwork for jatis with the foot hardly touching the stage floor seemed to be the dancer's strong point! This coupled with flimsy gestures and exaggerated facial expressions (mukhabhinaya) marked the entire presentation which had Oothukkadu's composition (Pranavakaram Siddhi Vinayakam…) and a tarangam (Nandanandana..) with the tambalam (plate) dance, ‘Okapari vokapari vayyaramai..' in Karaharapriya and ‘Swagatam Krishna…' a popular piece in Ragamalika.

If it's not too much to say, the jatis being reflected in the tambalam would be credible only if the mridagam were silenced to that extent! Otherwise, there would be no clarity in any footwork pattern being emulated with the plate if that were to be overridden by the percussion. Artists should bear this in mind in trying to showcase their balancing act when dancing on the plate. The sancharis towards the end of the tarangam were the saving grace of this dance. There was anything but grace in ‘Okapari vokapari vayyaramai…' . A racy dasavataram display marked the Ragamalika.

Shruti Jain, disciple of G. Ritesh Babu, stuck to the classical framework in every sense of the term, be it accurate stance, calculated footwork, sanchari bhava, gestures or abhinaya.

Combining two styles of Bharatanatyam, Shruti had naturally a vast number of footwork patterns to exhibit which she did accurately. Her varnam had all the elements that are called for in this lengthy execution.

If she fell short of anything, it was in stage management - for most part she did not occupy the entire stage space but confined herself to the left side (closer to the accompanists). When compared to Nitya Subha Prada, Shruthi's plus point was a live orchestra. A little more lucidity in body kinetics and expressions would take the young dancer a long way in future. The festival was held at Ravindra Bharati.