Dancers belonging to different styles and schools enriched The Mudra National Dance Festival 2013 in Thiruvananthapuram.

Six days, eight dance forms and 12 dancers – this year’s Mudra National Dance Festival 2013 had all the variety that a dance festival could offer. The opening day of the festival featured Bharatanatyam by Nikolina Nikoleski and Mohiniyattam by Pallavi Krishnan.

Nikolina Nikoleski

Nikolina Nikoleski, born in Croatia and currently settled in New Delhi, is a disciple of Bharatanatyam danseuse Saroja Vaidyanathan. The practice she had in classical ballet and gymnastics certainly helped her to make those leg stretching moves and balanced postures look effortless. However, her exposure to those seem to have some adverse effect as her footwork, at times, lacked the aesthetic beauty that one would expect in Bharatanatyam.

The Nayika’s yearning for Krishna in the Dhanyasi varnam ‘Nee indha maayam...’ failed to impress as she hurried through the abhinaya sequences and the hand-eye coordination was often relaxed. On the other hand ‘Bho Shambho...’ (Revathi / Adi) and the Desh Thillana depicting Anjaneya were apt picks for her style.

Pallavi Krishnan

As the inaugural session stretched much longer than expected, Pallavi Krishnan was forced to cut short her recital. Apart from the introductory Cholkettu piece and Mangalam she had only time to present ‘Pingala’, the central piece.Choreographed by herself, Pallavi was fluent in her presentation.

Sruthy Jayan

Sruthy Jayan was at her best during her Bharatanatyam recital on the second day. Having been connected with Kalakshetra for many years, as a student and later as a teacher, her recital featured some of the unique pieces that blossomed in the institute.

She portrayed the dancing Siva in Swati Tirunal's ‘Sankara Srigiri...’ in Hamsanandi, Adi. The splendid choreography provided a lot of opportunity to display one’s competency in the adavus as well as the techniques. The dynamics that she generated through her precise footwork and varied expressions marked elegance. ‘Murugan Thalattu’ was the piece that followed in which she portrayed an affectionate mother.

Sruti Bandopadhay and team

Sruti Bandopadhay and her team succeeded in pulling out a profound display of Manipuri dance.

In ‘Balya Leela’, a three-segment choreographed piece, portraying Krishna’s antics, Sruti was seen in the roles of Yashoda, Kaliya and, later, in the concluding ‘Vasantha Rasa’ as Krishna himself. Debangana Chakravorty was the other dancer in the lead and she portrayed Krishna in the former segments and that of Radha in the latter. The dancers’ smooth movements and joyous expressions made the recital a treat to watch.

The Pung players and the rest of the accompanying members also deserve credit for their support and for the music ensembles they presented.

Vijayalakshmi

The third day started with Mohiniyattam by Vijayalakshmi, daughter and premier disciple of senior danseuse Bharati Shivaji.

The opening piece titled ‘Ganapathy Sthuthi’ (Kavalam Narayana Panicker, Ragamalika, talamalika) was inspired from ‘Parvati Viraham’ and ‘Kailasodharanam’, oft-seen in Koodiyattam and Kathakali. Though the piece had its uniqueness and lot of substance, Vijayalakshmi’s expressions, at times, lacked depth.

She also performed ‘Ram Charith Manas’, which portrays the marriage of Rama and Sita.

Sreelakshmy Govardhanan

Sreelakshmy Govardhanan was at complete ease throughout the performance, following the traditional approach of Kuchipudi, which had live dialogues in between.

‘Mandodari Sabdam’ and ‘Bhama Kalapam’ were the central pieces. Sreelakshmi’s recital was laced with elegant footsteps, stylised postures and a flurry of expressions. She chose to perform the first two daruvus of ‘Bhama Kalapam’ which had Bhama talking about her husband Krishna to Madhavi, her friend. With a touch of humor, Sreelakshmy acted the role of Bhama to perfection. Vidya Sundari, herself being a performer, was precise in nattuvangam and also managed well to reciprocate the dialogues.

‘Nanda Nandana...’ tarangam from Narayana Teertha’s Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini was the concluding piece in which she also performed on the brass plate, balancing a pot of water on her head.

Purvadhanashree

The fourth day of the festival saw Purvadhanashree’s Vilasini Natyam, a dance form rarely staged in these parts. In contrast with Kuchipudi, Vilasini Natyam follows the ‘Sthree Sampradayam’ in which movements appear quintessentially feminine.

Choornika, offering pushpanjali to various deities, and a Swara Pallavi (Kalyani / Adi) followed in which she performed the distinctive adavus of the dance form.

A short ‘Salam Daravu’ (Mohanam, Adi) piece was presented next and she concluded with Doothika varnam (Todi, Roopaka), in which she portrayed the Sakhi, who has been send by the Nayika as a messenger to the king.

Shila Mehta

Kathak performer Shila Mehta came without much of a plan, it seems. Starting with Upaj, Thaat and a few Thukadas, she initially struggled to find the flow along with her percussionists.

Rendition of ‘Sitapaharan’ and ‘Navarasa’, keeping in tune with the rhythm, were the two small pieces that grabbed the attention of the viewers. An abhinaya piece based on Jayadeva’s Gita Govind was also presented. She then moved on to a few Taranas in which she did those chakkars to perfection and a Holi dance. These concluding pieces were the show-savers that delighted the spectators.

Ileana Citaristi

The fifth day of the festival had Ileana Citaristi, the Italy-born dancer and choreographer performing Odissi. After a well choreographed Magalacharan piece in praise of Lord Surya, she moved on to the Pallavi (Bhimpalasi / Ektali) item in which she made those soft-eye and torso movements marked to perfection.

The abhinaya piece titled ‘Saranam’, was interesting when she presented the tales of women from three faiths (Mary Magdalene, Amrapalli and Pingala). It depicted how Jesus, Buddha and Krishna, respectively, transformed them to find their inner self.

Jolly Mathew

His Bharatanatyam recital also included the display of some masculine karanas.

Janaki Rangarajan

Janaki Rangarajan danced her soul out during a Bharatnatyam recital that every spectator would cherish for long.

After the Alarippu and ‘Sivoham’ she moved onto the central piece, the Ragamalika varnam ‘Sami Ninne Korinarura...’ in Roopaka tala. She was flawless throughout the presentation with admirable stage presence as she presented the full-length varnam. The abhinaya was sedate and gentle, enabling the audience to have a good grasp of every detail.

The way she narrated the story of Markandeya and elaborated other sequences underlined her versatility over the medium. Jathis were never stretched beyond acceptable limits and also succeeded in maintaining the sthayi all along.

Kapila Venu

After such a Bharatanatyam extravaganza it was not an easy job for any performer to make an impression. But Kapila was up to the task and made her Nangiarkoothu recital equally profound. The story for the day was ‘Kurmavatara’. After presenting the situation of the story in brief, Kapila moved on to the gist of the segment – the churning of Palazhi. The portions to elaborate was wisely chosen keeping in mind the time she had for the presentation.

The act was truly enchanting and it marked her mastery in the abhinaya aspects of the art form.

The festival was jointly organised by Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan and Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala.