Gayatri and Balagurunathan’s ‘Stree Purusha’ was a display of perfect timing, spirited dancing and sincere emoting.
Gayatri and Balagurunathan’s presentation of ‘Stree Purusha’ (Woman – Man) for the Natyarangam’s ‘Baandhava Bharatham’ series, in Chennai, came across like a colourful kaleidoscope of mini dance dramas, which derived power from the tight-knit structuring.
Each unit was composed of a significant beginning followed by a central body and a dramatic conclusion. The common thread was the benign love between husband and wife, where Dr Sudha Seshayyan’s inputs and skilled oratory formed unifying factors. The dancers’ selection from mythology and history provided ample scope for emotional colour and vigorous movements. The linking of the saptapadi in a traditional Hindu wedding with each story heightened the interest.
If T. K. Padmanabhan’s music composition added to the note of vitality of the dancing, the nattuvangam performed by Neela Sukanya, singing of Hariprasad, mridangam by Ramesh Babu, violin by T. K. Padmanabhan and the flute exposition of Anil Kumar made it more so.
Small but significant changes in the costumes of both dancers for each portion, reflected their thorough homework, which the production demanded.
Selected scenes from The Ramayana, important facts from the life of Valluvar and Vasuki, the wedding of Krishna and Rukmini, the steadfast love of Jayadeva and Padmavati, a romantic interlude as well as the dialogue between Siva and Parvati and finally the translation of Bharathiyar’s poem ‘Paayum Oli’ into the dance medium formed the substance of ‘Stree Purusha.’
Moving beyond the inevitable note of déjà vu for the Ramayana episode, the dancers built upon their strengths of split second timing, spirited dancing and sincere emoting. One could see that the dance design by the duo included details such as making optimum use of the performing space, multi-dimensional body stances and selective use of props. The quality of the sound of the sollukattu that flowed with the mood of the dancing was an enriching factor.
‘Stree Purusha’ certainly succeeded in projecting the rosy picture of eternal love between the man and woman. Yet no ideal is achieved without sorrow or struggle in the balance of power, and the man - woman relationship is no exception. One felt that a poignant look at this aspect by including relevant examples would have made the performance even more thought provoking.
Ultimately, the charm of ‘Stree Purusha’ lay in the sprightly dancing of Gayatri and Balagurunathan that was in harmony with their script.