Evocative portrayal of themes by Mohiniyattam dancers Parvathy Sreevallabhan and Sandra Pisharody did their guru proud.

At a recent performance in Irinjalakuda, Parvathy Sreevallabhan and Sandra Pisharody showcased the dance as both a representation and veneration of the Almighty.

The recital began with a traditional Poli. Prior to the entry of Devadasis in Kerala, the Poli was performed in honour of the goddess depicted as Neeli, Kali and other primeval forms. The goddess is invoked to bless the land with prosperity and the women with progeny. Parvathy’s portrayal, in turn, as the deity and the devotee, was impressive. Her abhinaya brought alive both the fierce figure of the goddess and the fearful form of the follower. The traditional lyrics were set to music by Kavalam Narayana Paniker and choreographed into the dance form by Nirmala Paniker, guru at Natanakaisiki.

Varnam in raga Saramati, choreographed by Nirmala, was replete with adavu as well as abhinaya. The dance told the appealing story of Arjuna arriving on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, experiencing total dejection, the persuasive words of his beloved friend and charioteer, Krishna, and the narration of the Divine Song or the Bhagavad Gita to him. Parvathy made the stage look like a battlefield, so strong was her visualisation of the theme. Effortlessly, she portrayed both the dejected Arjuna and the encouraging Krishna. Expectedly, the manifestation of the Universal Form or the Viswaroopam was the high point of the recital. The dancer’s prowess was visible in her depiction of this moment. In the charanam segment, the Dasavataras were well enacted. Special mention must be made of the splendid Narasimharoopam. The song, ‘Geetayodhiya Govindan’ was penned by Nirmala and the choreography was by her as well.

The last item of the dance recital was an interesting and innovative presentation of Vyloppilly Sreedhara Menon’s poem, ‘Palatharamam Naadangal’. Choreographed by Nirmala, this dance was performed by Parvathy and Sandra. The two of them shared such a level of comfort that the audience began to see them as one. This dance documents the sounds of Kerala which are, alas, dying today. It is also a record of customs and traditions, which are a part of the bygone days. The sound of deer rubbing their antlers in amorous games is the first depiction. The forest echoes with the chirping of myriad birds and the soulful cry of a lonely Koel. The two dancers gave a treat that was as much aural as visual; such was the mimetic quality of their art. The song of the reapers at work, the tinkle of bangles and the distinctive song of the boat race were also depicted.

During Thiruvathira, the women go for an early morning bath in rivers and ponds. Traditionally, they splash each other with water and sing. Vyloppilly’s poem and its dance representation have captured the playful mood of this custom. The grace of the dancing peacocks was delightfully portrayed by Parvathy and Sandra.

The recital, organised by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi, was held at Natanakaisiki as part promoting young talent.