CHOREOGRAPHY NaMaargam, which premieres on December 5, will present Margam with a twist.
What is NaMaargam? “Well, it is a conversation between four Bharatanatyam dancers that dwells on the core of spiritual growth and poses questions and seeks the answers through dance and music.”
That’s how Krithika Subrahmanian describes the thematic presentation ‘NaMaargam: Knot The Path.’ She along with Priya Murle, Priya S. Dixit and Prabha Dixit, all disciples of Prof. Sudharani Raghupathy, will present this unusual Margam on December 5. The show commemorates 65 years of Sudharani’s contribution to Bharatanatyam and the proceeds will go to ABHAI (Association of BHaratanatyam Artistes of India).
The brain-child of Sudharani’s son, K.S.R. Anirudha, who is an accomplished mridangam player and a busy civil lawyer, NaMaargam presents pure Bharatanatyam and yet breaks away from the traditional format. The pieces are the result of the creative choreographic inputs of Priya Murle, Priya Dixit, Prabha Dixit and Krithika Subrahmaniam. While Prof. Sudharani has lent her expertise, the music is an adaptation of the compositions of vidwan Madurai N. Krishnan, with verses of Tagore and Vallalar included.
As the team explains, “NaMaargam is contemporary classic. It will appeal to viewers irrespective of nationality, religion, profession or inclination. It is reverent yet irreverent - as it boldly seeks and answers eternal questions within.”
How can Margam be unusual, you wonder. Anirudha says, “Well, we begin with thillana (Hamsanadam) and end with Mallari.” What!? “Yes, I am sure I will ruffle quite a few purist feathers here. But you see, I have worked on the concept that Life is Not one straight line. Each person has a different perception of and response to a similar situation. It does not mean that one is right and the other is wrong. It’s each man’s vision. NaMaargam is our vision.”
Anirudha, who has always thought out of the box, continues, “I was inspired by the stories of Kannappan and the Kanakana Kindi or Kanakadasa’s Window at the Udipi Krishna Temple. Faith is important, how you worship is left to you. Similarly, in dance, the essence of the rasas is important, no matter what form it is presented in.”
What was his classicism-steeped mother Sudharani’s reaction to such a dramatic departure from tradition? “She was initially sceptical. But once she heard me out, she accepted my view point, and offered artistic and choreographic guidance. Of course, her words of advice were, ‘Remember you have a family name and a reputation to protect.’ You see, she is my greatest critic and the first person to tolerate my idiosyncrasies,” says Anirudha.
On an artistic journey
Krithika, an architect by profession, who has nearly 18 years as a dancer to her credit, says, “We have been jamming for quite a while now and we felt that while Bharatanatyam was exclusive in the sense that its audience is limited, we want it to become inclusive and draw more and more people towards it, connect with a dancer on stage and make the artistic journey together. That’s the premise of NaMaargam.”
Myriad emotions in several languages including Sanskrit, Tamil, and even English, will be depicted in this production where other highlights are ‘Arut Perum Jyothi Thaniperum Karunai’ by Vallalar, a ragamalika varnam (four varnams woven together), the classic sabdam ‘Kadavulae’ which recognises the existence of God in every aspect and within oneself, and a Pazhamozhi Padam, where well-known Tamil sayings have been strung together and will be portrayed through pure dance.
Is the Chennai audience open to this kind of experimentation? Only time will tell.
NaMaargam, which is open to all, will be held on December 5, 6.30 p.m., at The Music Academy, TTK Road.