Alarmel Valli's spirited style and expressive abhinaya left the rasikas yearning for more.
Alarmel Valli is not just a veteran Bharatanatyam artist, she is a communicator par excellence. She uses a three pronged strategy in her recitals- first, trigger the audience's imagination with beautifully-worded, tantalising explanations, second, build up the mood with excellent music, and finally dance to give the piece a visual dimension. This is the no-fail magic formula. Valli's ‘The Forgotten Seed' was befittingly an assortment from Sangam poetry, from both the Aham (internal or love) and the Puram (external issues like war, valour) categories. The beautiful poetry and the well-tailored presentations resulted in a cascade of colours, mood and energy that was reflected off the ethereal-looking dancer, dressed in white and gold.
Valli's explanations are so natural and poetic. In this recital, she had chosen interesting situations that she gave immediacy to, by drawing word pictures explaining the landscape, the situation and the tantalising end. They were so beautiful that it left one yearn for more. There was a piece about a young man and woman who are attracted to each other but do not declare themselves.
Valli as the nayika said, ‘We were strangers yet I started suffering the pangs of love. I thought we would both die of love! So I took the matter into my own hands.' And what the nayika does formed the rest of the story.
Valli was very expressive with her own brand of abhinaya that is whimsical as it is communicative. It is a style that relies on a responsive orchestra that reacts to every nuance. The nayika has washed her hair, and tries to squeeze the water out... diduk, diduk, goes the mridangam player reflecting the gesture. In another instance, she laments the death of a young brave heart and the singing is a soulful wail.
The abhinaya was clear yet crowded with music and movement, keeping the madhyama kala pace from start to finish. The entire package was enjoyable.
Another highpoint in Valli's dance was her tireless energy. Valli is slender, yet she managed to fill the space with quicksilver movements and expansive gestures. Her movements were graceful and lyrical, and followed the music.
The songs had swaras and jati korvais woven into their fabric, set in the madhyama and durita kalas. While they were unduly fast, one felt it was central to her spirited style. Her steps also had a refreshed look about them. The finishes despite the high speeds were very impressive.
There was fall out though in the Subhapantuvarali (lament) and Durbari Kanada (flashback) composition about a woman mourning a young man in between recollections of his happy childhood. One felt Valli did not dwell enough on the sorrow. Though her style was more suited to the happy, coquettish mood one wished the dancer gave that sentiment its due. She is after all a master dramatist.
The brilliant and attentive musicians were: Latha Ramchand (vocal), Ranjani Arun (violin), Shakthivel Muruganandan (mridangam) and C.K. Vasudevan and the music composition was by Prema Ramamurthy.