Expressing the navarasas through natya and nritta is one thing. But choosing appropriate themes that will connect with audiences and at the time, touch chords of spirituality is another matter. This season, three veteran dancers have chosen themes that seamlessly blend sringara and bhakti rasas and use a new idiom to express human values and high philosophy. They talk to SAVITHA GAUTAM about their new ventures.
Meenakshi Chitharanjan: I have called my production ‘Thaedi Kandu Kondain’ (In Search I Discovered). The theme will be based on the outpourings of Saivite saints and will premiere on December 15, 7.30 p.m., at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha. I open with ‘Sivananda Koothu’ from Thirumoolar’s ‘Thirumandiram.’ It focusses on the blissful dance of Siva. Then, I go on to Appar’s ‘Munnam Avanudaya Namam Kaetaal’ in Harikhambodi (from Thirukantakam) -- complete surrender to the Almighty is what this piece is all about. This will fill the varnam slot. The other unusual items which I have chosen include Gnanasambandar’s Thevaram (‘Siraiyarum Madakiliye’) and ‘Thiru Angamaalai,’ another Appar work. While I have choreographed the pieces, the music is by S. Rajeswari. Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Madurai G.S.Mani and T.V.Venkataraman, among others, have lent a helping hand.
Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala: After having had the golden opportunity of presenting a dance ballet before Sri Satya Sai Baba and the President of India, Pratibha Patil during Baba’s birthday celebrations at Puttaparthi, I feel more energised and empowered to present a production that revolves around woman power. Titled ‘Pennmai Chudar’, it has been penned and composed by Kalpakkam Srinivasa Murti, and Hariprasad has lent his voice. It is a tribute to extraordinary women who shaped the destiny of mankind. Featuring 15 dancers from my Kalapradarshini School, including four male dancers and myself, the dance drama will highlight various facets of women through the characters – the courage of Keladi (Kittur) Chennamma, Avvaiyyar -- the fount of knowledge, the patience and grace of Sita, the charitable nature of Manimekalai and the single-minded devotion of Andal. P.V. Venkatasubramaniam had been a pillar of strength for me, guiding me at every stage of the production.
Ananda Shankar Jayant: A while ago, Satthiraju Venu Madhav, a Carnatic musician released a book and CD titled ‘Annamayya Padamandakini’, tuned and sung by him. The CD with 108 songs, set to 108 ragas, caused my pulse to quicken, as if Annamacharya seemed to be calling me loud and clear! That was it. I decided to do a show on the saint poet. ‘Taala Patra – Hymns from the Hills’has evolved as a four-suite, solo feature, that uses Annamacharya kritis, that deals with the evocative, the temporal and the philosophical.