High energy and clean movements marked Kiran Rajagopalan’s performance.
Kiran Rajagopalan’s lanky frame is surprisingly not awkward. The Bharatanatyam dancer has turned the long limbed body into an advantage by working on a strong movement technique with good footwork, clean finishes, well-defined arm movements, good balance, posture and high energy as its cornerstones. The result is a poetic display of strength and masculine grace. He is no doubt as involved and expressive in role-play but is yet to develop the necessary depth. He is being mentored by noted abhinaya-exponent Bragha Bessell who will undoubtedly show him the way.
Kiran has been under the tutelage of dancer Sujatha Srinivasan in the U.S. and more lately under A. Lakshman in Chennai. He is incidentally a post graduate student in Dance. He epitomises a sincere student of the art form but it is his maturing that will decide how far he will go as a performer.
Bhakti dominated the recital with a sloka on Saraswathi, a varnam (‘Vaarana Mukhavaa,’ Nattakurinji, Adi, T.V. Gopalakrishnan) on Ganesha, a Ninda Stuthi on Krishna (‘Itti Panulu,’ Gowla, Adi, Sarangapani) and a devotional kriti (‘Hariharanai nidam,’ ragamalika, Adi, Ambujam Krishna) following in quick succession. Backed by beautiful melody (K. Hariprasad, vocal and N. Sigamani, violin) the recital was a harmonious blend of rigour and bhava.
The story of how Ganesha’s elephant head came to be was detailed with clarity in the pallavi of the varnam but it was the charanam section that surprisingly contained sancharis- of the Ganesha-Muruga competition for the coveted mango and the Valli-Muruga romance. The Ninda Stuthi was expressed with reasonable clarity as was the melody-drenched ragamalika kriti.
The theermanams of the varnam were charming patterns of rhythm; the third sequence, ‘Gum tari’ was especially eye-catching. But some of the movements were not so poetic. The trikalam jathi, a traditional one, had a profusion of feminine touches that one felt was not necessary, though to Kiran’s credit he carried them off with dignity. In the fourth sequence, a gesture with both arms spread out wide overhead with hands in tripathaka mudra, almost like a tree, was another that was unattractive.
It was exhilarating to see the energy level that was maintained until the end. Shakthivel Muruganandam (mridangam) anchored the rhythm while he embellished the nritta patterns with beats of varying resonance. A. Lakshman’s nattuvangam was a more laboured effort.
Pranathi Ramadorai, disciple of veteran dancer Rhadha, is a talented young dancer who presented herself with confidence and poise. She is sincere as well; the clear role play in the age-appropriate sancharis and the well-rehearsed nritta reflected her commitment.
Also, her finishes were neat and her timing was accurate. She could incorporate more energy and athleticism into her movement vocabulary though one wonders if the unsuitable sari costume obstructed her natural enthusiasm.
The Bharatanatyam recital was strong on music with Bhagyalakshmi Sigamani (vocal) being the star. Melody flowed in a continuous stream through kritis like ‘Sadinchane’ (Arabhi, Adi, Tyagaraja) and ‘Kaliyuga Varadan’ (Brindavana Saranga, Adi, Periasamy Thooran) and the Sankarabharanam Thillana in Adi talam. Though the accompanying artists on the violin (Sigamani) and mridangam (M. Dhananjayan) were supportive, they were too loud to have a pleasant effect. Guru Rhadha (nattuvangam) offered subdued but strong guidance.