The four-day Guru Sishya Parampara featuring Non-Resident Indians disseminating Bharatanatyam overseas, highlighted the strong ties that they continue to maintain with the art community in India as also their dedicated efforts in passing on their skills to the next generation abroad.
The festival put together by Radhika Giri, artistic director of Anjali School of Bharatanatyam, was an interesting combination of different styles, where the practitioners of the Vazhuvoor and Kalakshetra banis presented colourful dancing with spirit.
Performing on the first day at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Radhika Giri and Guru A. Lakshman (also performing the nattuvangam) put up a show where grace and emotion were in the forefront. The chunk of the margam as seen in the varnam ‘Mohalakiri’ in Naatakurinji performed by Radhika showcased the heroine’s nuanced love for Lord Venkateswara delectably. Though a valiant effort, one could see Radhika’s energy flagging in the tail end of the piece particularly in the swara passages. Lakshman’s dancing remained pristine all through and caught different shades of mood.
Radha’s plea in the ashtapadi ‘Kuruyathu Nandana’ sensitively rendered in Behag by Hariprasad proved to be the cherry on the cake.
Packed with energy
Dynamic movements went hand in hand with a deep understanding of bhakti in the recital of Nirupama Vaidyanathan and her disciple Prachee Raje (from USA), at R.K Swamy Hall the next day. Nirupama’s confident natyam had the hallmark of years of practising the art while Prachee’s quick moves in the Pancharatna kriti ‘Sadinchane’ and the Marathi abhang ‘Pandarinivasa’ impressed for their fidelity to the basic style. ‘Amma Ananda Dayini’ and Bharatiar’s ‘Panchali Sabadam’ were pieces where the Guru scored for her maturity of thought and clarity in choreography. A predominantly perpendicular stance in adavus and the paucity in torso bends were minor points that needed attention. Nattuvangam by Swamimalai Suresh and vocals of Hariprasad added to the presentation.
The group of nine dancers led by Pramila Ramesh from Oman presented lyric extolling the pantheon of deities with fine co-ordination and fast dancing as evident from the invocatory ‘Mudakaratha Modakam’, ‘Karpagavalli,’ ‘Dasavataram’ down to ‘Deva Devam Bhaje’ and thillana in Kapi. Performing both solo and in tandem with her students, Pramila’s dancing and costume reflected the Kalakshetra technique. One could discern the straight lines of energy, the bright smile and restrained abhinaya which captured the flavour of bhakti by both teacher and disciples. Radha Badri’s singing and Mahalakshmi Narendra’s nattuvangam matched the group’s efforts.
Accent on margam
The concluding day at Mylapore Fine Arts featured the team of Deepa Ganesh and daughter-disciples from the U.K. who presented a margam as trained by her guru, Adyar Lakshman. With the stalwart at the helm for nattuvangam supported by his daughter Induvadana and Sai Shankar’s melodious singing, the presentation boasted both of internalised learning and ongoing path of education that Bharatanatyam provides.
The crux of the performance was the Ashtaragamalika lyric ‘Nitykalyani’ where Deepa presented bhava and nritta with dedication. The Devi’s facets of valour and compassion were succinctly portrayed here. While ‘Ananda Natamaaduvar’ and ‘Nee Uraipai’ by Nivedita and Vaishnavi were earnest labours, ‘Rusili Radha’ by all three could not quite balance the element of humour or sringara. Thillana in Natabhairavi was an energetic finale.
Despite the quality of dancing, rasikas would have appreciated this artistic feast better had the organisers not shuffled the venues so much.