Nrityakshetra Dance Academy’s event was virtually a celebration of talam.
Nrityakshetra Dance Academy, run by the dynamic couple Madurai. R. Muralidharan and his wife Chitra, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary over six days (November 10-14) at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The concluding day on November 16 was held at the Narada Gana Sabha. The event featured Bharatanatyam recitals in six rare talam each day presented by talented and capable students. The task was a challenging one as each set of items was to talams not seen frequently in dance recitals. With concept, music and composition by Madurai R. Muralidharan the fare proved to be in his inimical sizzling style.
The first day featured dancer Vijaya Vasavi taking up the margam in Sankeerna Matyam Talam of twenty aksharas. Four students - Krishnapriya, Sindu, Janani and Diveusha - performed songs set to Tisra Dhruva talam of eleven counts the next day. Deepa Mahadevan’s performance focused on Kanda Jamba talam with eight aksharas while Amirtha presented a margam with Tisra Ata talam with ten aksharas on the following days.
The concluding day at Narada Gana Sabha was the grand finale and had two distinct parts, the first being the presentation of M. C. Kavyalakshmi and the second, a novel group dance composition by veteran mridangam vidwan D.A. Srinivas performed by over forty students .
Kavyalakshmi’s recital featured Mishra Roopaka talam with nine aksharas. From start to finish the youngster set out to prove her mettle in nritta and abhinaya. Beginning with Pushpanjali in raga Pahat, the kautuvam which followed - (ragamaalika) praised the effulgence and compassion of Goddess Saraswati. The tough trikala theermanam for the varnam left one wondering at the stamina and ease with which she coped with the breakneck speed!
The choreography commanded admiration; yet a slower pace would do full justice to the adavus and serve greater rasanubhava. The varnam ‘Ananda Sayana’ in Mayamalava Gowla described the ten avataras of Narayana and highlighted the Gajendra Moksham episode. Krishna Taalatu was like the eye of a storm, offering calm and tranquility. Thillana in Vijayavasantam was full of play and frolic and picked up the raga’s innate joy.
Maestro D.A. Srinivas’s mridangam play for the entire evening added richness and an extra dimension to the overall ambiance. His brainchild Agama Vipina Mayuri was akin to a symphony of rhythm and music. Featuring a rich fare of instruments like the maddalam, tavil, chanda, octopads, nagaswaram and keyboard it was indeed a grand and fitting finale to the anniversary celebrations. The theme was inspired from Kalidasa’s famous sloka “Omkara panchasruti” and envisaged the Divine Goddess (performed by Kavyalakshmi) as dancing amidst a cosmic garden. Right from the smallest five year old to the senior most dancers (all students of Muralidharan), this was a spirited piece of work that elicited spontaneous admiration. The vocals by Anantanarayanan and Ragini boosted the excellent choreography and dancing to bring the evening to a rousing finish.