Here was a recital where creativity and energy came together with amazing felicity
Excellence in Bharatanatyam emerges when the dancer transcends limits of visual geometry and reaches sublime levels. It is not just about a mastery over physical movements but more an integration of intellect, emotion and imagination.
It was a rewarding experience to see Meenakshi Srinivasan’s performance where there was as much dynamism in movement as insightful thought process. Here was a recital where creativity and energy came together with such felicity.
A disciple of Alarmel Valli, Meenakshi is at present based in Chennai and recognised as a remarkable artist in the hub of the performing world. Her style retained the essentials of tradition while ‘speaking’ in today’s global Bharatanatyam language. A carefully planned set of items, a strong orchestral team and a personalised style of communication were other merits.
An equal number of old and new lyrics were presented by the dancer. ‘Akriti’ by Dikshitar and a lyric by Swati Tirunal were complemented with a varnam written by V. Vijayaraghavan and a thillana composed by Rajkumar Bharathi.
‘Ananda Natana Prakasam’ in Kedaram as the opening number was given the requisite substance in interpretation. What began as a low key number unfolded later as a succinct depiction of the high philosophy embedded in Dikshitar’s sahityam. Ideas such as the one who provides salvation beyond life and death or the one who removes the veil of illusion were followed by quick movements in the swara passages. The flavour of the dance composition matched the profound sense of the item.
The crux of the varnam was Sita’s question whether there was justice in Rama’s decision to exile her. The first person narrative was also a skilful telling of pertinent episodes of the Ramayana without diluting the sthayi bhava of Sita’s distress. Meenakshi’s firm footwork and araimandi were maintained well for the brisk jatis which fitted smoothly with the abhinaya sections. Set in ragamaalika by vocalist K. Hariprasad, the shades of the ragas such as Begada, Ritigowla and Kapi were used well by the dancer. It was interesting to see how the artist placed intricate ideas alongside a broad sketch for totality of effect. Without any overt statements of radicalism by the dancer, one got the impression of Sita being the symbol for womankind from the subtext, which raised the worth of the performance.
‘Kanakamaya’ in Huseini was laudable for the range of emotions put forth. The artist was able to portray the contrasting personalities of the two friends, the different aura of the gods, little touches of mythology and finally was savvy enough to leave just a little unsaid. The dance composition by abhinaya expert Bragha Bessel was well comprehended by Meenakshi and added to the impression of intelligent artistry.
The dancer had something extra to offer even in the concluding item -- thillana in Sindhubhairavi. The suggestion of Krishna’s magnetism portrayed in the finishes of the korvais linked up with the Tamil prayer to the Universal God penned by Prof. Raghuraman and the Sanskrit verses.
Jayasree Ramanathan (nattuvangam), Hariprasad (vocal music), Vedakrishnan (mridangam) and Sreelakshmi (violin) supported the dancer proficiently.