Shaivam, a thematic dance presentation, was executed with excellent co-ordination and timing

“Shaivam”, a thematic Bharathanatya presentation on Lord Shiva by Dr. Padmaja Suresh and troupe, was staged recently under the joint auspices of Aatmalaya and CMR Group of Institutions, Bangalore, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

The performance opened with a solo by Padmaja Suresh, dancing to verses from Thirumular's “Thirumanthiram”, against the backdrop of a lotus, a Shiva Linga, and the Sri Yantra, symbolising the power and subliminity of the subject, Lord Shiva, and his consort Parvathi. The item, interspersed with some intricate jathis and punctuated with rhythmic recitation of sahithya, was followed by a lively yet solemn representation of the various aspects of the Lord by a group comprising Vaishali Ramachandran, Shreya Merchant, Sandhya Gopalan, Vijayalakshmi Sunderaraman, Kruthika Ramesh and Cristina Brauwers. Attractive choreography based on diverse texts including the Shiva Sahasranamam, incorporating eye catching formations and footwork, was executed with excellent co-ordination and timing.

Shankaracharya's celebrated Shiva Panchakshara Stotram beginning “Nagendra Haaraya” was presented next by a trio of dancers. Shiva's attributes, and the potency of each of the syllables in the mantra, were conveyed effectively and augmented by judicious deployment of nritta and by the repeated chanting of the mantra itself from the wings. The lead artiste prefaced her interpretation of Swathi Thirunal's “Shankara Srigirinatha Prabhu” in Hamsanandi raga with a stanza from Pathanjali's “Shambhu Natana Stotram”. Nataraja, the cosmic dancer and master of all creation, was also shown as the one who reduced Kamadeva to ashes, in the sanchari supplementing the appellation “Bhasma Thrinethra”.

The graphic narration of the touching legend of the low born Kannappa Nayanar and his innocent, unshakable devotion to the presiding deity of Kalahasthi, testified to Padmaja Suresh's abundant creative and histrionic ability and was the highlight of the day's proceedings, which concluded with extracts from Vedasaara Shiva Sthava and Shiva Chalisa. A variety of percussion and special sound effects, multiple rhythms, ragas such as Revathi and Shivaranjani, appropriate lighting, and outstanding orchestral support from Balasubramania Sharma, Prasanna Kumar, R. Sreehari, H.S. Venugopal and Saumya Ramachandran contributed greatly to the success of the programme.

Though more lucid and detailed explanations would have proved beneficial, “Shaivam”, presented to a large audience consisting mainly of school children, with the avowed aim of generating interest in India's heritage, provided glimpses into the philosophy behind the awe inspiring concept of Shiva, and into the beauty of Bharathanatya without diluting the classical framework of the idiom.