KUCHIPUDI Brisk steps, skilful abhinaya and lively singing made Uma Muralikrishna's recital enjoyable.
Sparkling abhinaya complemented by elegant dressing and temple jewellery marked the Kuchipudi performance of Uma Muralikrishna. A talented artist, Uma is renowned for her graceful stage persona.
Uma chose to present her recital in a format similar to the margam of a Bharatanatyam recital. Thus the invocatory number was followed by varnam, then abhinaya delineation and finally tillana.
The dancer began with a Saraswati Stuti in Valaji and Arabhi followed by the Dikshitar kriti ‘Sri Saraswati Namostute'. This was a fast piece where Uma described the singular traits of the Goddess of Knowledge. Although brisk movements combined with the coquettish glances typical of the Kuchipudi style were seen here, the Dikshitar piece would have benefited from weightier singing what with vocalist Roshni Ganesh's voice being off colour initially.
Balamuralikrishna's ‘Amma Ananda Dayeeni' in Gambhiranattai and Adi talam with dance composition by Kishore Musalikanti, formed the core of the recital. The trikala jati capably recited by Kishore was set to vigorous movements and steps that kept Uma whirling in a fusion of grace and energy.
The eulogy of the Devi formed the backdrop for the dancer to display her rhythmic and emoting skills. Although balancing and dancing on the brass plate is tricky business which demands skill and concentration by the dancer, the constant stepping on and off the plate for each swara passage loosened the thread of narration in the latter half. Indeed, the placing seemed superfluous in the face of Uma's otherwise dedicated performance. The pose where the dancer stretched out languidly on one toe caught the sensuous essence of her style of Kuchipudi.
The mood of sringara was also elaborated in a Tamil song penned by Madurai Muralidaran. A frank depiction of Radha's love for Krishna was outlined by Uma for ‘Mugilinai' in ragamalika. She handled with customary ease the situation of Radha being upset by Krishna's dalliances but still treasuring his memories. Uma interpreted this virahotkhandita nayika with lucidity of thought. The images of Radha ‘seeing' Krishna everywhere – fire, air, sea or moon -- colourfully emphasised the love-play between Radha and Krishna.
Annamacharya's lyrics resound with multi-dimensional splendour and a sample was the Atana kriti where he exhorts the palanquin bearers to carry the beautiful goddess Alamelumanga with care. The saint-poet's vivid imagination was skilfully captured (choreography by Guru Vempati Chinna Sathyam) with a nice touch of bhakti and wonder. The quick steps, perky rhythmical patterns and the lively rendering by the vocalist made this piece one of the high points of the evening. The leaps by the dancer, her expression of joy and concern for the delicate goddess underscored her high calibre in Kuchipudi.
Uma's energetic moves for the effervescent Kuntalavarali tillana by Balamuralikrishna ensured the recital concluded on an upbeat note.