In ‘Purananuru,’ Lakshmi Ramaswamy and her students highlighted the ideals through Bharatanatyam.
Ethics and tales of bravery were presented in a dynamic form for ‘Purananuru,’ by Lakshmi Ramaswamy and students of her school, Sri Mudralaya. The dance drama for the 26 Margazhi Mahotsav, incorporated stories of noble kings through Bharatanatyam interspersed with dialogue that stressed upon ideals such as friendship and generosity. The poems, culled from the rich heritage of Sangam literature, illuminated the positive qualities of human life. The unhurried abhinaya, which conveyed the meaning of the old Tamil verses succinctly, made the dance enjoyable.
The inputs provided by Prof. S. Raghuraman and music composition by Vanathy Raghuraman were the other assets of the production. In addition, the onstage discussions in contemporary Tamil between the Professor and a cute 11 year old girl imparted information and helped the story move ahead. The course of ragas such as Anandabhairavi, Kanada, Hindolam lent weight to the natyam.
In the first song, the dancers burst onto the stage with warlike movements full of vigour that focused on chivalry. The subsequent sequences highlighted compassion, a sense of justice and generosity through the lives of Kings Sibi, Manu Needi Cholan and Atyaman enacted in turns by different dancers.
How were children reared in that era, merely as future warriors? This query was answered through the refined enactment of Lakshmi. Her depictions clearly conveyed how societies treasured their offspring as their greatest wealth - not just in the past but also in the present day. Another solo by her showed a strong-hearted mother who sent her young son to war. The audience could relate to the physical courage of the men folk and the moral resolution of the mother in rousing the last surviving member of the family.
The costumes for the group, the motif of flower garlands and the minimalist jewelry were in synch with the universal perception of The Sangam age. Though laudable, the middle segments that preached values in abstract form dragged down the dramatic momentum. But introduction of brisk rhythmic moves restored the equilibrium. The inspired efforts of Jayasree Ramanathan for the nattuvangam and Vanathy Raghuraman’s singing aided the dancing. Special mention must be made of the dance composing, which emphasised ideologies in the exotic theme.