Shirisha revealed her potential as a mature artist in her presentation of Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi.
Everything was beautiful about Shirisha Shashank’s Bharatanatyam style – her posture, geometry, movements and finishes – but one, that is her lack of adventure. Her recital Bharat Kalachar stayed in soft-focus, where the image looks perfect but not sharp. All inputs were tailored to be so: the jatis were even-toned and rendered softly (K.S. Balakrishnan), the mridangam player (Haribabu) played softly, the choreographies were straight-forward with no build-ups and rough edges.
Was it a quest for perfection that pushed Shirisha to play safe? Or was it the repertoire that slowed her down? It is true that she chose pieces more for their melody than their dramatic possibilities – the
Yadukulakhambodi swarajati (Misra Chapu, Syama Sastri) on Goddess Kamakshi was a standing example. It is a beautiful composition, but unless you convert the bhakti in the lyrics into an intense vision of Devi and her adoration, the 11 swara and sahitya passages can turn into one long, flat visual.
Shirisha however scored in the Jayadeva Ashtapadi, ‘Radhika Virahe Tava Keshava,’ that describes Radhika’s wasting away from Krishna’s neglect and her friend’s desperate attempts to convey this to Krishna. The dancer showed depth, sensitivity and intense concentration in this piece. This was Shirisha exploring her potential as a mature artist. Each role – Radhika suffering, the friend looking for Krishna, her conversation with him and Krishna’s final response – had finesse.
Purandaradasa’s Devarnama, ‘Kadagoola Taarenna Chinnave’ (Yamunakalyani, Adi) and Veena Seshanna’s Khamas tillana (Adi) were also well-played out. A basic standard is a given considering Shirisha’s illustrious gurus – Radha Sridhar, Narmada, Professor C.V. Chandrasekhar and Priyadarsini Govind.
The musicians were in good form with Arun Gopinath (vocal) and Kalaiarasan (violin) taking care that the melody-dominated evening was most enjoyable.