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Presentation mars concept

From Vijayanagara Vaibhava... well-researched.

MAYA RAO is a well-known kathak dancer-choreographer from Bangalore. Her latest work, ``Vijayanagar Vaibhav," a dance drama set in the court of King Krishnadevaraya, presented for Bharat Kalachar, was sadly ineffective on account of poor presentation. First staged at Hampi, it was perhaps made for a different audience? It resembled rural theatre in the production style and in the garish period costumes. Research and dance choreography was by Maya Rao. Traditional music was by B. K. Chandrasekhar, and for the Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi sections, Janavi Jaiprakash. To achieve greater authenticity for the period production, Maya had chosen Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. And that possibly was her undoing, because the standard of music and especially dance, for those sections were very average. The poor audio recording added to the dissonance.

Nevertheless all was not lost. Sparks of her ingenuity got shrouded in mediocrity. Interwoven into the screenplay, were ``Krishna Parijatha," written by the court poet Thimmanna and ``Amuktha Malyada" on Andaal written by the king himself, both in Telugu. Each story began in the pravesham-style. A maroon screen was used as a book cover with the title displayed. The author would remove the screen to reveal a white screen denoting the pages, with the characters appearing from behind, as if coming out of a book. The best seemed to have been saved for the last where the people entertain their king to mark his victory in war.

For those who waited, the potential of the choreographer and her group of 20 dancers came to the fore in the last segment. The villagers dance was a folksy group dance, well-coordinated, an adaptation of the tribal dances of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Kolattam figures on the Mahanavami Dibba, the victory platform, come to life and break into a dance. This was imaginatively choreographed and the dandiya-raas was most enjoyable in its inherent grace. The king's vassals honour him with their music and dance. Kathak that was brought in this way, in a Salaami and Taraana, in Darbari raag, teen taal, was exquisite. The dancers were dressed tastefully in white and gold and their footwork was riveting. The music and the dance blended to create an impact that showed masterly knowledge of the idiom. There were many pointers to the painstaking research that was spearheaded by B. V. K. Shastri.

The parak or proclamation on the king's arrival, though noisy, was original, and found in the scriptures. So also was the repertoire of the court dancers. They performed a Prabhandam, very similar to a tisra alarippu, which is an original composition of Vyasaraaya, found with notation. The war scene between the King Gajapathi of Orissa and Krishnadevaraya, with elaborate dress and ornamentation was an adaptation from the traditional Paik war dance of Orissa, and from the Yakshagana movements of Karnataka. Even minute details were taken care of. For example, Sathyabama fainting when she hears of Krishna presenting the flowers to Rukmini, was an idea taken from Bijapur,s folk theatre form. A commendable concept that unfortunately got diluted in its adaptation.


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