In a hallway accustomed to strong voices and informed opinions, the audience was treated to a symphony of salangai (dancing bells), indigenous music and eloquent expressions: Gramathugeetham, the dance recital staged by Shivakalalayam Academy of Indian Performing Arts marked the 57th anniversary of Tiruchi Tamil Sangam.
The programme also roped in Tamil Sangam’s Pongal celebrations and presented through dance the various aspects of life in the villages of Tamil Nadu.
Beginning with Isai Thamizh, a pure classical piece on the evolution of Tamil music and musical instruments, the recital went on to depict an array of home-grown dance forms such as kummi attam, kavadi attam, oyilattam, and lambaadi attam.
Performing in the city for the first time, the troupe from Chennai brought on stage 13 different pieces that were themed around the antics of Krishna, the devotees bearing kaavadis, the lives of kuravars and paambattis, and the joy surrounding the harvest season among others.
While most of the songs were sourced from elsewhere, the harvest dance song was written and set to tune by S. Shivakumar, who runs Shivakalalayam along with his wife and dancer, Shailaja Shivakumar.
Choreographed by the couple the pieces subtly combined the nuances of classical dance within the broader framework of folk dance and were all preceded by small introductions.
The 12-member troupe put forth performances that were in sync and high in energy.
While the opening piece focused on the evolution of music, the finale appealed for world peace and hoped the love for arts would bring the world together.