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Updated: December 10, 2012 13:33 IST

Agility, grace and drama bring mythology to life

Olympia Shilpa Gerald
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Bharathanatyam exponent Shobana performing at Thevar Hall in Tiruchi on Saturday. Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam
The Hindu Bharathanatyam exponent Shobana performing at Thevar Hall in Tiruchi on Saturday. Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam

Performance marks Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s platinum jubilee

One moment, it was a vengeful Kali describing a death dance bathed in shimmering red lights; later it was a coy but sulking Radha who lead a placatory Krishna in a merry dance. Be it a diabolical demon or demure damsel, Bharathanatyam exponent Shobana, in a performance marked by dizzy speed, youthful vigour and histrionics, reaffirmed her reputation as a consummate dancer and a two-time national award winning actress.

Shobana’s performance was a treat for music and dance aficionados in the city brought about by Tiruchi Kendra of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The Bhavan, keeping its promise of enriching the cultural scene in the city, has in its one year of inception brought acclaimed artistes to Tiruchi.

The performance that opened with a solo rendering of Thevaram continued to a bewitching four-phased Kali Varnam where Shobana managed to hold the audience at Thevar Hall spell bound with fluidity of movements and nuanced expressions. With vigorous dervishes and intricate footwork to the tune of ‘Sambasivam Sari Padhi Nee’, the danseuse celebrated the many shades of a goddess replete with delicate feminine gestures, masculine strides and the fury of a woman scorned.

A bhajan by students in praise of Shiva with sinuous movements and a lively interlude with a sulking Radha who pulls away from a pursuing Krishna followed the elaborate varnam.

The crowning moment of the evening was the final Ashtapathi, a depiction of dasavatharam, the ten avatars of Vishnu. Here, Shobana’s prowess as a choreographer and teacher came to the fore as her students twirled from scene to scene in a performance packed with raw emotions, exuberant leaps and continuous shifting of spaces. Discarding conventional depictions, the untamed energy of the dancers was matched only by the constant changing of lighting that created moods.

The building of the bridge to Lanka by Hanuman’s brigade and Narasimha disembowelling his haughty opponent were moments of dramatic triumph. At its peak, the dance reached cinematic moments as a wee Vamanan portrayed by a delicate dancer grew in stature clambering atop a human pyramid to manifest the Viswaroopam of the avatar. With a foot thrusting Mahabali’s head to the ground, sealed the moment.

Vocals by Preethi Mahesh, mridangam by Ramakrishnan, violin by Karaikal Subramanian and flute by Sruthisagar complemented a performance with little room for error. Earlier, R. Seetharaman, chief executive officer, Doha Bank Group, event delivered the chief guest’s address.

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