‘This bright-faced dancer is no beginner,' is the first thought that came to mind while watching Ritwika Ghosh's Bharatanatyam performance for Bharat Kalachar. She has the skill and confidence of a veteran, so where has she been?' Her story had the answer- Ritwika is from Kolkata and has learnt Bharatanatyam from Ambali Praharaj. She came to Chennai and was under the tutelage of senior dancer-teacher Jayanthi Subramaniam for two years on a Government of India scholarship. Her teacher's generosity opened doors in Chennai and the dancer has stayed on since.

One feels assured in a system that has brought Ritwika this far. The talented and hard-working dancer is also this year's Yuva Kala Bharati awardee for Bharatanatyam from this sabha. Dressed in a beautiful costume of orange and red, Ritwika excelled as a coy maiden awaiting her lover's arrival in ‘Thamadham Seyyadhu Vandharul' in the bhakti-sringara Nattakurunji varnam, ‘Swami Naan Undan Adimai' (Adi, Papanasam Sivan). The anticipation, the wait and the despondence came in their own time as a natural progression in a real-time experience. Even a loosening hair accessory could not come in the way for her.

Ritwika adapted as naturally as an angry and sarcastic nayika in Yedhuganum Indha Chaaturya Vaarthaigal (Khambodi, Kavi Kunjara Bharati) and as a flirtatious Radha in ‘Chaliye Kunjanamo' (Brindavana Saranga, Swati Tirunal).

An impromptu presentation of ‘Chinnanchirukiliye' (Kapi, Subramanya Bharati) brought out the motherly side of this young lady who did justice to the sentimental lyrics of the poet at a moment's notice.

The dancer's pure dance movements held the same correctness and earnestness. The timing, the finishes, the geometry of the arm movements, were all spot-on - except one - the araimandi stance. This is a mystery given Ritwika's conscientiousness. Perhaps it slipped her notice?

The concluding thillana in Surutti, Tisra Gati Adi, by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyer, was a rhythmic challenge, one that Ritwika triumphed over. In this regard, one cannot deny Jayanthi's support with the nattuvangam that was steady and firm. Nellai D. Kannan (on the mridangam), generally prone to fireworks, was surprisingly impressive in the Brindavana Saranga piece in which he tapered off at the end of the sentences as if tip-toeing out.

Radha Badri (vocal) and Kalaiarasan (violin) were musically complimentary and cohesive, contributing to a well-finished show.

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Rupa SrikanthDecember 27, 2011