Rama Vaidyanathan gave prominence to Ajapa Natanam in her recital.
Every second of Rama Vaidyanathan's 110-minute Bharatanatyam recital carried cutting-edge precision. Aided by a master nattuvanar (Karaikudi Shivakumar) who delivered sollus like fireworks and an attentive Arun Kumar (mridangam), the stylish dancer from Delhi sculpted time and space into razor-sharp movements and stylised friezes.
She is a master craftsman who uses silence as a tool in her choreography. The varnam (‘Mohamana,' Bhairavi, Rupaka, Ponniah Pillai) and the tillana (‘Varamu,' Adi, G.S. Rajan) were in signature style, energetic and explosive.
The theermanams were a bit longer than necessary and one is not sure of the rationale behind the long fireworks display. The varnam arudis were not spared either -- they spanned two avartanams. Besides the geometry and vibrancy in nritta, stylisation in bhava is a key component in Rama's technique. The descriptive parts are full of suggestions.
The sringara in the interpretation of the varnam was downplayed, and the Ajapa Natanam (Siva's dance to the beat of Vishnu's breath while in meditation) was given prominence. This led to a dramatic sanchari of Vishnu's breath and Tygaraja's dance in response.
While Rama's visualisation is always exciting, it is depth that is lacking. The abhinaya fell short in the Krishna kriti (‘Mein Nahi Jaun Yamuna Teer,' composed by Rajan in Kapi, penned by Swati Tirunal) where the punch line about the gopis in turn feeling bad when Krishna has left did not come through. And in the Nammazhwar piece (composed in ragamalika by Rajan) about a lovelorn nayika in conversation with a cuckoo, parrot and the Garuda. Here the sthayi about the nayika was lost in the stylisation and the bird symbolisms.
The music was of a very high standard, with Ramya Sundaresan (vocal) and G.S. Rajan (bass bamboo flute tuned in a lower octave) producing soft, melodic waves all evening. The latter's ragamalika (Malayamarutham, Kapi, Gambhira Nattai) was the pick of the evening with some inspiring moments.
It was interesting to see how the fireworks (nritta) contrasted with the placid melody. Had the hype in nritta matched the depth in bhava, it would have been a different story.