Friday Review » Dance

Updated: February 12, 2010 13:18 IST

What made it tick

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Commendable show: Smitha Madhav
Photo: B.Velankanni Raj
The Hindu
Commendable show: Smitha Madhav Photo: B.Velankanni Raj

Carnatic musician and dancer, Smitha Madhav, presented a Bharatanatyam recital on Tiruppavai, Andal's devotional poetry. She had picked a few from the 30-verse composition and fashioned them into an hour-long presentation. Punctuated with pure dance sequences and sancharis, the presentation was a sincere effort to portray Andal's devotion.

What made her presentation work was that it used different formats for each of the paasurams. While some verses had nritta interwoven into its fabric, others had sancharis or elaborations that took off from the lyrics. Another factor was the good music and percussion team that kept the energy going.

Smitha, a former disciple of Rajeswari Sainath, has an expressive face and a good command over laya. There was not much scope for the latter but where she shone was in the opening Hamsanadam Mallari in Khanda jaathi Eka talam in which she made the switches between speeds with ease. The bhava was clear but needs much refinement to be mature. She should concentrate on building the macro picture more cohesively.

There were some liberties taken in the mythology. Periyazhvar's confrontation with Andal about wearing the flower garland meant for the Vishnu deity was positioned as leading her to perform the Paavai Nombu.

Though there is no such record, it is a reasonable assumption that the 8{+t}{+h} century saint did write the Tiruppavai around that time. It may be passed off as ‘artistic license.’ But in the case of Sukracharya’s eye getting injured in the Vamana Avatara, Smitha showed Bali poking the kamandala with the darba pavitram. It was Vishnu who did it. The dancer should make sure her enactments convey the details accurately.

The Tiruppavai presentation was nonetheless good, with the combined effort of collaborators S.R.Veeraraghavan (vocal, music composition), N.Ramakrishnan (mridangam, laya composition), G.Vijayaraghavan (nattuvangam), Karaikal Venkatasubramanian (violin) and Patanjali (flute).

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