Dr. Srinidhi Chidambaram, a child prodigy who shared the stage with her first teacher, dancer-actor ‘Baby Kamala,’ and went on to train under Bharatanatyam Guru Swamimalai Rajarathinam Pillai, has a quiet way of making her presence felt but now she has acquired the confidence to break free and the artist you see today is a dancer who is relaxed, uninhibited and happy to be performing. Her effort is also painstaking as one saw in the perfect finishes of the kitatharikitathom adavus. She could extend this effort to all the dhi dhi tai adavus as well, most of which ended up one-legged. More energy in the nritta would also be welcome.
It was Srinidhi’s repertoire that drew attention this time. She opened with a beautiful metaphor-filled verse written by Poigai Azhwar, ‘Vaiyam Tagaliya’ (dedicating the verses to Narayana whom he saw with the universe as a lamp and the oceans being the ghee), followed by Peria Azhwar’s unusual ‘Thirupallandu’ pasuram where he wishes Narayana a long life. They were beautiful thoughts to begin with and were choreographed with energy and sensitivity (Nattai, Adi).
Mylapore was Srinidhi’s next destination. The first half of the Tamil adaptation, ‘Karunai Seididal Agaada’ on Kapaleeshwara by Papanasam Sivan (Sankarabaranam varnam, Adi) was combined with his Khambodi kriti ‘Kaanakkan Kodi Vendum’ on Kapali’s procession, to create a sringara-bhakti piece with the sthala puranams included.
While the love-struck heroine’s conversations with the sun, moon and snake were interesting, the jathis were well-intoned (Swamimalai Suresh) and executed. The khanda nadai jathi depicting the temple procession made an apt introduction of the kriti. The music and the treatment accorded to highlight Muruga, Ganesha, Karpagambal and Adhikara Nandi in the charanam were creative.
One choreography that did not sit well was the Tillang thillana (Lalgudi Jayaraman, Adi) and the plea for peace song, ‘Shanti Nilava Vendum.’ The tunes matched, but the moods did not, and when they were alternated, the joy of the thillana was ruined by the solemnity of the plea.
While Radha Badri (vocal) was consistent in her melody, Suresh’s ‘The River That Was’ tuning and singing was remarkable. With mood ragas of Ritigowla, Revathi and Sivaranjani, he captured the happy, sad and fatal states of the river. Most remarkable was the raga switches made midway during tanams! Sakthivel Muruganandan (mridangam) added colour with one more drum tuned to the panchamam, while the musicians Kalaiarasan (violin), Ananthanarayanan (veena) and Muthukumar (flute) provided a rich feel to the music of the evening.