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Updated: June 9, 2011 17:16 IST

South meets East at Nrityotsav

Ranee Kumar
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Vyshnavie Sainath's Odissi performance.
Vyshnavie Sainath's Odissi performance.

Vyshnavie Sainath impresses with Bharatanatyam and Odissi at the SICA event.

The three-day dance festival, Nrityotsav 2011, of the South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) took off to a rather disheartening start with not many Sica regulars turning up on this occasion.

Vyshnavie's dual repertoire in Bharatanatyam and Odissi regaled the audience. Her Madurai Meenakshi in the Bharatanatyam genre spoke eloquently about the story of the Goddess. With a costume that matched the mythical description of this goddess, the sprightly dancer was expressive in her depiction with graceful sancharis and unique teermanams (finishing lines). Calculated adavu patterns for jatis were impressive. Certain scenes in the narrative that included brilliant Tamil songs were particularly convincing. Vyshnavie's abhinaya and expression came close to artistic reality, for instance the sword fight that Meenakshi was supposed to be an adept at, being the prince-like daughter of the king of Madurai. Excellent jatis marked this piece. Tirumana vaibhavam kaanbhom… refrain with brisk footwork was deft and catchy. The martial Meenakshi transforming into a coy bride as she dotes on Shiva, her lord, was enacted with a natural flow of expression which is Vyshnavie's forte.

She looked majestic with an undeniable stage presence and the props on stage, like a solitary garland of white flowers that were thrown like an arched doorway and the plain curtain that acted as a backdrop, served to enhance the presentation. The stage had a replica of Madurai temple with the sculpture of the goddess in the forefront. What was breathtaking was the finale where the make-do archway with a pedestal and brass oil lamps hanging on either side, with Vyshnavie dressed as the deity as seen in the temple, with a parrot on the shoulder and a mounted hairdo, was aesthetics at its best. The abhang in Bheemplas was a relief piece executed with vigour and verve.

Guru and mother of the artiste, Rajeswari Sainath on the nattuvangam made an impact as did Sangeetha Kala on the vocal rendition. Percussion by Nagai Narayanan and Palakkad Suryanarayana on the bamboo provided an excellent instrumental score. If the young dancer has to further hone her skills and make it big, all she needs to learn is to put varied abhinayas to sangathis in the song. Often, one could detect repetitive abhinaya to depict the refrain that keeps occurring in any kriti.

The Odissi piece was a different fare, with the Madurai temple replica on the side of the stage being replaced by Puri Jagannath temple andthe idol of Krishna in the forefront. The sthayi in Sankarabharanam went from slow to fast moving dance representing frescos of dancing girls on temple reliefs. Though the dancer did not falter at any stage in this or in the nritta-based Pallavi, the earlier lucidity in movements and excessive swing and curvaceous dance was somehow found missing in Vyshnavie. She seemed to have carried the Bharatanatyam stiffness into this flowing genre, quite unlike her earlier performances.

Being able to handle two varied styles successfully at a young age is indeed laudable but then, the artiste needs to constantly keep vigil over the medium and its nativity so as not to allow overlapping of styles especially in the movements.

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