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Updated: October 6, 2011 17:28 IST

Portrait of a graceful dancer

VIDYA SARANYAN
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Aarabhi Badri. Photo: S.S. Kumar
Aarabhi Badri. Photo: S.S. Kumar

While Aarabi Badri revealed her capacity to cope effortlessly with intricate rhythm patterns as well abhinaya, Anagha Bharat captured the essence of a pada varnam with elegance.

The Yuva Utsav at Bharat Kalachar presented dancers from different schools of Bharatanatyam. Aarabi Badri, a disciple of Radhika Shurajit, made a favourable impression on the rasikas with her authentic approach and graceful Bharatanatyam. The skilled orchestral support, a judicious choice of songs and striking stage presence that avoided explicit showmanship pointed to a level-headed guidance of the guru.

The lilting tunes of the opening number ‘Natyavandanam' by Balamuralikrishna in ragamalika, reminded one of the Kuchipudi repertoire. Both the dance composition and presentation ushered in a brisk mood right at the outset.

The mention of the evils of lust, anger etc. that add to a devotee's distress, made the next piece, ‘Sri Chakraraja' more impressive. This was another ragamalika lyric that fitted into the Navaratri mood and paved the way for a weightier piece to follow.

Aarabi's expertise in nritta was put to test in the taxing varnam set to dance by the Dhananjayans. In ‘Mayam Yeno', a Papanasam Sivan composition in Mayamalavagowla, the dancer revealed her capacity to cope effortlessly with intricate rhythm patterns as well abhinaya. The adavus woven in gave no room for error and she rose to the challenge of the teacher's sensitively enunciated syllables.

The melodies of vocalist Chitrambari, violinist Kalaiarasan and Baba Prasad's sensitive mridangam play heightened the impact of the dancing.

While Aarabi's basic delineation of the sahitya and the sub-plots in the song were distinctly communicated, the detailing of the nayika's pangs of love lacked the punch. Also, though the narration of ‘penn paavam' was accurate, further shades would have enhanced the subtext here.

‘Yaaro Evar Yaro,' the evocative Bhairavi lyric from Ramanatakam was creatively interpreted. Aarabi's viewpoint was of the princess Sita (and not Rama as intended by the poet) who yearns to know the identity of the young and handsome man. The dancer clearly put her heart and soul into recreating the image of Rama. However, the ultimate effect was that of the depiction of the longing of a devotee, so much so the characterisation of Sita took a backseat.

‘Yahi Madhava,' a Jayadeva Ashtapadi, was a forceful depiction of a Khandita nayika. Aarabi did full justice as Radha who pours out her ire and scorn at the unfaithful Krishna and his wily nature. ‘Nrityangaharam' in Katanakutuhalam was a lively display of rhythm and melody.

Her eyes spoke volumes

Anagha Bharat's recital for the Yuva Utsav festival at Bharat Kalachar was commendable for her emphatic articulation of abhinaya and knowledge of rhythm. The performance had an air of gravity that was a result of her meticulous training under Jayanthi Subhramaniam and her mother Sudha Bharat.

After the initial Pushpanjali in Gambhiranattai, where Anagha offered salutations to Ganesha, she presented the main piece in Bhairavi. ‘Mohamaana Yen Meedil' offers plenty of scope to depict varied mood in sringara, and Anagha utilised this to the fullest. Her expressive eyes conveyedthe essence of the pada varnam – a blend of sringara and bhakti rasas.

But the same dexterity could not be seen in the pure dance segment which though rhythmically accurate, was not peppy enough. The heaviness in the execution of the adavus also coincided with a slump in energy in the second half of this piece. In addition, the quick ‘dhith thith theys' used for the attractive arutis to show the speed of Manmatha's arrows, lacked the required buoyancy.

Consequently, the winning feature in this delectable Bhairavi piece was Anagha's intuitive grasp of the heroine's mood. Nandini Anand's fluid rendition and Anagha's showcase of emotions proved to be a winning combination for ‘Sri Jagadeeswari' in Ahir Bhairav and ‘Ksheerabdi Kannike' in ragamaalika. The dancer's emphasis on ‘Swagatam' and the many types of worship were graceful even if the excessive fluttering of eyes lessened the impact at times.

The symbolic offering of flowers in the former piece and the dressing up of the goddess in the latter fitted in with the festive season. One could appreciate the many distinctions presented in the manner her friends teased Goddess Lakshmi. The imagery of the Vaishnava shrines in the Purandara Dasa kriti enhanced the devotional aspect.

Anagha's dancing took on sparkle for the thillana in Brindavana Saranga and adi. The visualisation of ‘Pachai Maa Malai Pol Meni', the splendid Alwar Pasuram, fitted well with the dominant adavu design.

Jayanthi Subhramaniam's expert nattuvangam, Nellai D. Kannan's thunderous mridangam play and Kalaiarasan's sweet notes on the violin enriched the dancing.

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