Vinitha Nedungadi explored the nuances of the nayikas in her recital in Kochi.
Vinitha Nedungadi’s Mohiniyattam recital in Kochi showcased her sensitivity to sublime themes and her prowess in acting. Beginning with a Ganapati stuti, she followed with a piece on Lord Shiva.
The Mukhachalam essayed the magic of varied choreography and the danseuse showcased the techniques of mudras and body movements typical to the style.
The main item was an exploration of Tagore’s ‘Geethanjali’, with select verses that highlighted four of the eight nayikas.
At the start of the passage that begins with the line ‘Njaanariveela bhavante mohana ganalapana shaili’, the danseuse demonstrated the effect of divine music of the lover, who is the supreme self. The verses presented were translations by Malayalam poet G. Sankarakurup. The dancer portrayed the Swadheenapathika nayika by evoking the sensuousness of the moonlit night as she waits, and, for a moment, realises the fleeting presence of the Lord. Vinitha interspersed the theme with moments of pure nritta. A varied treatment of Hamsadhwani raga heightened the emotional aspect at this stage.
The best portrayal was that of Virahotkhandita nayika who sees darkness everywhere and tries searching for that divine light in the lines ‘Vilakkevide ha vilakkathin thiri’.
Drama was at its heightened best. Vineetha later presented Vasakasajja nayika who adorns herself with flowers of goodness and love and waits for her lord.
Vinitha also presented her signature numbers ‘Karukare Karmukil kombanana’ and ‘Omana thingal kidavo’. In the first piece, she expressed the delight of a peacock enjoying the first drizzle.
Her presentation of the typical eye movements of the peacock and the care with which it cleaned its feathers were noteworthy. In the latter item, she exuded the warmth of the mother as the music faded into silence and the solace of sleep was depicted in tranquillity.
Kottakkal Madhu, an ace Kathakali singer, provided vocal support. However, poor acoustics drowned the lyrics in the initial part of the recital.
What came as a surprise to many in the audience was Vinitha’s unconventional costume, a pyjama with red borders and pleats – a far cry from the costume popularly used by Mohiniyattam dancers. In an interaction with the audience after the performance, Vinitha clarified that the costume that is used in performances is only a little over 50 years old and as such is not necessarily ‘traditional’. She said that she found the need for a costume that highlighted the torso and feet movements effectively.
The programme was organised by Bank Employees’ Arts Movement.