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Crisp choreography

`Shiva Sakthi-Vel'... sensitive narration.

MYTHOLOGY AND consequently the dance repertoire, abounds with tales of Siva and his progeny that have been told and retold countless times over. But the treatment of the legends in `Shiva-Sakthi-Vel' conveyed a sensitivity that belied this familiarity. Presented by the Dhananjayans at Bharat Kalachar, it marked a defining moment in the dance field where a Guru gave his students the limelight, a phenomenon that seldom happens. And this was not all. The production stood out for its crisp choreography, expert orchestration and superb dancing. Within the confines of the traditional genre, Shantha and V. P. Dhananjayan had carved out a spectacular work. Choreographed way back in 1984, this treatise was penned by the late Semmarkoil Shanmugam and composed by Reji George, T. K. Padmanabhan and Dhananjayan himself.

Rhythm was the dominant component in the one and a half-hour production with anga shuddam, timing and footwork taking precedence. Every cog of the wheel had been given attention but for the lighting that let them down at crucial moments, and the distracting backdrop on stage. The dancers shined with confidence. And the gurus' guidance is crucial for this journey.

The presentation was a single-minded effort to recount the tale with minimal frills, and without pause or monotony. The story of Kumara Sambhavam, the birth of Muruga, and Shiva's `tattvams'- the stories of how Ganga and Chandran came to rest on his matted locks was the essence of this dance-drama. The stage reverberated with the firm footwork of Pradeesh, Deepti Vishnubharathi, Sunita Jagadishan, Sandhya Murali, Praveen and Unnikrishnan in the opening Swathi Tirunal composition in Hamsanandhi ragam. This display of proficiency continued right through. The `pravesham' of Siva and Parvathi was an example of the innovative choreography in the differing adavu patterns performed simultaneously, the swaram set in Nattai ragam, Adi talam.

The ragas had been selected according to the characters portrayed, as Gowri Manohari and Kalyani ragams for Parvathi, and Rishabhapriya and Mohanam for Siva. J. Suryanarayana Murthy as Siva was dignified in his role, and Anusha Natarajan as his consort was an epitome of lasya, but could have toned down the coquettishness a little. It must be mentioned here that the casting was excellent. Sandhya Mohan as young Muruga was a picture of innocence and exuberance.

The orchestra led by Shantha on the nattuvangam was a combination of precision and melody. Sashidharan was impressive. Ramesh Babu provided special effects on his mridangam, maddalam and dholak. In particular, the fight between Tarakasura and Muruga was an effective coming together of Unnikrishnan's choreography, Shantha's elathalam and Rameshbabu's dholak without being overpowering. Kalaiarasan on the violin and Sunil Kumar on the flute provided the melody with the support of Lakshminarayanan on the tambura.

There remains only one issue about the dancers' ornamentation. Do we have to portray our Gods glittering this way?


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