Presence of Sobha Naidu on stage was itself a highlight.
We have crossed the millennium a decade ago; we are swept by the winds of global transition in all walks of life- be it religion, rituals and customs, history, geography or anything under the sun that came into direct contact with man. Not even a two-year-old is willing to accept stories or morals without practical proof! Questioning every established norm is the order of the day.
There is no doubt that our Puranic lore has a timeless appeal in terms of classical dance. But the story has to be told convincingly; it has to be packaged and presented logically to appeal to urban, artistic intellectuals, so that the essence of mythological stories is appreciated and respected.
‘Navarasa Natabhamini' presented on the second day Nrityotsav 2011, unfolds various mythological stories of Goddess Durga (mother goddess) attributing the artistic navarasas (nine moods/emotions) to Her divine pursuits. And in doing so, the dramatic element completely overtook the dance component, which is what a Kuchipudi Nritya Natika is all about. Characters walked in and out like drama artistes, gesticulating and at the most twisting and turning, but the classical footwork patterns, that are laced to the entry of each character as is customary was sadly omitted. We did hear the jatis in the recorded background, but nothing really happened on stage!
The veteran dancer-guru Sobha Naidu as usual excelled in facial expressions, which is her forte, and the fact that she took to the stage as the protagonist was itself the highlight of the presentation.
She brought out the moods of shringara, roudra, veera very convincingly through her abhinaya but the adbhuta rasa and the story that went with this particular mood was highly unconvincing. How can Shakti find anything more wonderous than Her own energy? The portrayal of Parvathi being fooled by Shiva in a vanishing act, was a little too difficult to digest! Artistes should be able to look at the concept of Shiva and Shakti as energy and pure bliss and bring out this aspect through personification and not reduce supreme divinity to the mundane level of a foolishly romantic couple contesting in dance! This piece of choreography seemed to have been more inspired by Telugu mythological films. .
There was precious little by way of dance among other younger artistes. The effect of lighting, the strong recorded voice of Amalapuram Kanna Rao enhanced this drama, staged at Ravindra Bharati under the aegis of TSR Lalitha Kala Parishat and Sruti Art Academy.