The dancer's voyage onstage is never a predictable given, for despite the best of intentions and preparations the result is always open. Either the artistic endeavour in the kutcheri clicks or it does not. From the first step of entry to the last bow out ‘Thedi Kandu Konden’ was a performance where both savvy premeditation and inspiration synched effectively. Meenakshi Chittaranjan put forth a homage to Siva with elan.
Research, rehearsals, dress design, brainstorming sessions and a well-knit team of orchestral members formed Meenakshi's springboard for Bhakti as the prime mood which surged over her stern linear nritta to create an ambiance of completeness and self surrender.
Meenakshi's nayika, who draws (with eyes closed) the image of Siva envisioned in her heart - and stands captivated when she beholds the final portrait, is a moment stamped in the memory. That single delineation formed the core of the dancer's intentions of search and discovery for the evening.
A black and gold costume, rudraksha necklace and chunky bangles aligned the dancer's dress with the Saivaite theme. ‘Munnam Avan Naamam,’ a thevaram from Saint Appar's incomparable body of work Thiruthandakam was formatted like a varnam in Harikhambodi. The many shades of devotion and blind love inherent in this situation of a young maiden captivated by Lord Siva were elegantly handled. Just as a progression of intensity of the nayika's feeling worked well in sustaining interest, the insertion of a small Khanda nadai phrase highlighted the Lord's procession and kept the dancing buoyant.
The modulated nattuvangam of Pandanallur Pandian and Sakthivel Muruganandam's skilled techniques on the mridangam matched with the dancer's rugged and forceful pure dance moves. One could gauge the expertise of the dancer from the seamless fit of this section with that of the emoting ones.
This intensity of mood was established on the dot from Sivananda Koothu in ragamalika and khandam in the beginning of the recital. Awe, amazement, deference were feelings quickly sketched for the transition from Sankarabharanam, Kedaragowla, Atana to the chatusra notes for Mohanam.
The pretty picture of a heroine cajoling and indulging her pet parrot in a Gnanasambandar hymn in Suddha Saveri and Tisra Triputa. Meenakshi's depiction carried both conviction and delight where a falsetto mimicry of the squawking parrot (by Pandian) struck a lighter vein in the audience.
As against the sophistication of the earlier numbers, the last piece with excerpts from ‘Thiru Angamaalai’ in Pantuvarali and Roopakam were statements of hyperbole and drama. Where Siva was always the Omniscient who was internalised for the previous depictions, here he became the Lord spelled out through symbol and form. Situated like a thillana with
interspersed passages of verse the composing used bold strokes that emphasised the Divinity within oneself.
The admirable efforts of musicians S. Rajeswari, Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Madurai G.S. Mani and T.V. Venkatraman in advising on the music for the programme found apt expression through the notes of vocalist Gomathinayakam violinist Kalaiarasan and veena artist, Bhavaniprasad.