Rama’s sancharis were embellished with arresting theermanams.

Rama Vaidyanathan’s solo dance recital took place as the inaugural concert of the Music Academy’s dance festival.Twisting and twirling her way out of a spotlight at the far end of the stage, Rama choreographed an impressive Lord Krishna – the divine cowherd tending his cattle, human souls in this case. Narayana Tirtha’s Tarangam ‘Aalokaye Shri Bala Krishnam,’ worked as a spring board for her liberal artistic metaphors, added to nattuvanaar Karaikudi Sivakumar’s powerful jatis.

Continuing into ‘Mohamana’ the Thanjavur quartet varnam, Rama’s interpretation stood starkly different from other narratives. This was the story of the Nayika desiring Lord Siva, who in one myth danced in the heart of a reclining Lord Vishnu in the temple of Thiruvarur. Changing the mood of the whole varnam and its usual choreography, Rama’s sancharis were embellished with her arresting theermanams in her nritta. The procession of Tyagesa of Tiruvarur and Rama’s sancharis for ‘Nagarigamana Thirunagaril’ could have gone on forever. The unusual stillness and space she created in her choreography had interesting points of reference as she built it to a crescendo. However, in certain places the geometric technique seemed to obstruct the fluidity of her movement. The biggest distraction of Rama’s dance was the ever-increasing decibel level of her vocalist, Sudha Raghuraman. As the performance went on, there was an over-dosage of Sudha’s voice constantly over-powering the dance.

Next Rama performed a short piece on mother Yashoda requesting Krishna to show his face in ‘Moomu Choopara’ in Ragam Behag, Rama explored three different ideas – the physical face of Krishna, the butter thief who gets caught and the eternal cosmic form of the Viswaroopam. One would have loved to hear Raghuraman’s delicate flute to the wonderful sancharis Rama performed but once again Sudha’s voice overtook and one could see how she was totally overwhelmed with the dance in front of her.

Rama concluded with ‘Eppadi Manam Thunidhadho’ from Arunachala Kavi’s Rama Natakam in ragam Husseini set to Misra Chapu Talam, depicting Sita’s pleading and pursuing Lord Rama to take her to the forest. Both these pieces drastically slowed down the show, but Rama sprung back to life with the final tillana in ragam Dwijavanti composed by the legendary Balamuralikrishna and decorated it with an Annamayya keertana ‘Radha Madhava Rati Charitam.’ If Sudha can tone her voice down and do away with the unnecessary exhibition of her virtuosity, she can elevate the overall performance experience.