The dancer chose to depict Nature in all its glory, and as always, was a delight to watch.

Visualisation on Nature flowed thick and fast in the hands of Alarmel Valli. Her stylish presentation transported beautiful streams, crashing thunder and lightning - Mother Nature in both her benign and terrifying forms on the stage. What was noteworthy was the performance correspondingly tucked in significant perceptions on life and its higher meanings, which intensified the mastery of the dancing.

The dancer interlaced Tamil and Sanskrit verses for her opening number tuned into a raagamalika by Rajkumar Bharathi. Sourced from Abhigyana Sakunthalam, Atharva Veda and other treasures as well as the vibrant poetry of Subramanya Bharati, the dancer connected the contrasts besides aspirations for harmony from the Silappadikaram with skill. With ragas beginning from Vasanthi and leading to Aarabi, ‘Yaa Shrishtihi' covered visuals such as the wind kissing the trees as well as the fragrance of Nature, that enriched the depiction.

The Nature theme was further linked with the magic of Krishna's flute for the varnam ‘Samikku Samanam Yevaradi' in Sankarabharanam, an adaptation from the Telugu counterpart. Valli's nayika was at once a lady confident of her love besides being a humble supplicant of his grace.

Vasudevan's nattuvangam found translation as a lateral movements filled space and time with degrees of energy in nritta. Nandini Anand's singing coordinated with the dancing fittingly.

As the charmer who weaves magic with his flute and who brings the elements under his sway, The Divine Flautist was an interesting interpretation for 'an extraordinary Lord'. Fascinating in itself for the graceful translations that are very much Valli's forte, where one could 'see' the wavy outlines of the breeze, one still missed the specific descriptions of Krishna lore that would have also brought him close up and personal in this situation . Alongside these lines was the swift and striking idea for 'Manam Kanindu' where the dancer adroitly besought not just his affection but also a release from the bondage of births. While some lines were explicitly delivered, there were more hidden missives that the dancer conveyed through her eyes also.

The subsequent musical carried vivid metaphors to evoke the aches of sundered love. Valli's picturing of the crabs that tear apart a fig fruit for the poem ‘Karungkal Vembin' in Bagesri raga by Paranar, struck responsive chords for the words from Kurunthogai from Sangam literature.

Colours of wit, condescension and mockery were mixed by the dancer for ‘Telise Vagellela' in Bilahari. An apt foil for the pensive mood earlier, here the artist zeroed in with her many pronged attacks of the sneaky lover. The presentation was made all the more rewarding for the stress-free pace. "I know your wily ways too well," said the dancer adding in her particular enunciations in abhinaya without being side-tracked by the partial disorder of the costume fan.

Swaralaya in Vasantha was a brisk conclusion where verses from Purananooru highlighted the necessity of good citizens for the well-being of a country.


Vidya SaranyanDecember 27, 2011