Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon’s Bharatanatya Manjari Endowment concert was a study in artistic restraint and aesthetics.
Shijith Nambiar and Parvathy Menon recently presented the Bharatanatya Manjari Endowment concert, an annual event instituted in memory of the former vice president of the Music Academy, K. Chandrasekharan. Both are distinguished alumni of Kalakshetra, Shijith having served as a faculty member as well.
They might be the latest dancing couple on the cultural horizon, but they are mature dancers first. Their presentation was a study in artistic restraint and aesthetics, somewhat like the elegant stage decor that evening. While their perfect synchrony, good finishes and precision in timing were impressive, it was the sophistication in choreography that stood out. The effect was layered when the dancers alternated adavu patterns and when they broke the monotony of the linear with movements performed in circles. The diagonal remained Shijith’s favourite spatial design for sure.
Accent on rhythm
The intelligent role-play between Padmanabha and the nayika in the varnam, (‘Saarasa Shara Sundara’, Neelambari, Adi, Swati Tirunal) and between Krishna and Radha in the Surdas composition (‘Bujhat Shyam Kaun Tu Gori,’ Gowri, Adi, dance composition Leela Samson) made use of gender-defined roles without sacrificing the artistry within. The first meeting between Krishna and Radha was one of the best in the recital. It was here that the mridangist Ramesh Babu, who had given accurate support otherwise, stood out for enhancing the romantic air with delicate drumming.
An interesting technique of abhinaya used a couple of times in the varnam was when both the dancers emoted individually, out of the choreographic space. At the end of the piece, the devotees have a glimpse of a reclining Anantha Padmanabha through the three doors in the sanctum, as in the temple in Thiruvananthapuram. They express the same idea of devotion ‘in their own words.’ It made for a powerful moment.
Parvathy’s abhinaya in the javali (‘Sakhi Prana,’ Chenchuruti, Tisra Triputa, Dharmapuri Subbarayar, dance composition Leela Samson) had depth with sadness overpowering anger. The nayika maybe classified as Vipralabdha not Virahotkhandita since there is an element of betrayal involved. Whether she is an Uttama nayika or a Madhyama nayika is a moot point. The musicality of this piece was rendered with so much restraint, that one felt the vocalist (G. Srikanth) was tiptoeing around the nayika’s raw feelings! One cannot say the same of the Kumara Sambhavam piece though. Shijith’s nritta felt tired and grounded, and the whole picture of Siva’s majestic form did not come through. The dancers would do well to work on the azhutham of the adavus. One could not hear the bells all evening. There is also the question of sameness in nritta; more tandava-lasya levels will be more interesting.
The wonderfully harmonious orchestra was led by Venkatakrishnan (nattuvangam), the others being Kalaiarasan (violin) and Devarajan (flute).