Shafeekudeen and his wife, Shabbana, adhered to tradition during their dance performance in Thrissur.

A Bharatanatyam recital by Shafeekudeen and Shabbana in Thrissur recently was proof of the duo’s devotion to their discipline, which cut across all barriers. Shafeek, a post graduate in Bharatanatyam from Madras University, has been groomed by Kalakhsetra and the Dhananjayans. Having participated in all the major festivals in India and abroad, his experience is varied. His wife, Shabbana, inherited terpsichorean talents from her mother, Kalamandalam Husinabhanu, who had taken to dancing after overcoming hurdles posed by the orthodoxy. The daughter’s commitment to dance is evident from her efforts to hone her skills under maestros Vempatti Chinna Sathyam, Vasundhara Doraswamy and Vyjayanti Kashi.

They opened with an invocation to Mother Earth. The hymn described the genesis of the Earth and her embellishments such as the oceans and the mountains. Composed in Suddha Saveri and misra chap, the duo delineated it quite befittingly through energetic adavus and symbiotic movements. The number choreographed by V.P. Dhananjayan appeared relevant since the show was staged only a couple of days after Earth Day. Moreover, among the dance fraternity in the world, it is only the Indian classical dancer who performs barefooted, a reflection of the dancer’s respect to the planet.

The varnam that followed was an expression of Krishna bhakti. In the composition of Kalyani Rajaram in Kiravani, Adi, the devotee aks Krishna: “Will not you come when I call? I need only you and not any material wealth”. Naturally all the antics of the child Krishna and also his heroic deeds were essayed, especially in the sancharis. Shafeek himself choreographed the varnam. Worth mentioning was the rhythmic pattern he had created.

While swara sahithya was executed in chaturasra, the charanas were done in tisra. Not only was the transition (from chaturasra to tisra) smooth, it added to the attraction of the choreography. The jatis were well-woven and were presented jointly and independently by the two in turn. Rhythmic perfection and space utilisation were laudable. Reclining Vishnu with Lakshmi standing beside him was a striking finale that attracted applause from the audience. Interestingly, the subtle differences between the masculine and feminine styles of performance were also discernible in the duet.

Tulasidas’ ‘Bhajo mane Ram charan sukhadaayi’ was a solo by Shafeek. The bhajan extolled the virtue of Rama’s feet in many ways. Anecdotes such as ‘Ahalya Moksham’, those pertaining to Bharatha’s sandals, story of Guhan and so on were enacted in the piece. Ganga’s origin from Vishnu’s feet and Siva keeping her in his locks were depicted. The stance of Siva, though shown as a passing feat, was majestic. Dhananjaya’s choreography was set to ragas Yamuna Kalyani, Hamsanandi, and Sindhubhairavi in misra chap tala.

The recital concluded with the famous Balamuralikrishna tillana in Kuntalavarali, Adi. Vibrantly performed by the duo, one felt it could have been a little faster.

The recital was the highlight of the Chetanotsavam 2013 organised by Chetana College of Music and Dance Academy.