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Excellent control over laya

THE RAJAH Annamalai Hall in Esplanade is a regal edifice, opulent in its design and décor, with elaborate woodwork and large, airy green rooms. This magnificent setting where Lakshmi Ramaswamy, disciple of Chitra Visweswaran, gave a Bharatnatyam recital based on the compositions of Papanasam Sivan entitled, `Harom Shivom', houses the Tamil Isai Sangam.

Lakshmi comes across as a serious dancer, with an aptitude for both the nritta and abhinaya aspects of Bharatnatyam. Her calm, unhurried manner indicates a growing maturity and self-confidence vis-à-vis the art form. She is on the threshold of a journey of discovery, of finding herself and her strengths through continued application, observation and study.

The dancer has much to offer, and her effective communicative skills can be honed to further advantage. Lakshmi is reserved in her delineations, which she will outgrow with time, especially in the case of her sancharis that tend to be more literal than descriptive.

As the theme suggests, her recital dealt with both the deities, Vishnu and Siva, emphasising their oneness in the first and last items, while dealing with them independently otherwise. She had the benefit of jathi choreography by her guru, and music composition by Dr. N. Ramani and R. Thiagarajan; however, the credit for the overall choreography remains with her.

The mainstay of the programme was an item, where couplets penned by Sivan were presented in the form of a conversation between the nayika and her sakhi, about the former's love for Tyagesha, recast in ragamalika by Dr. Ramani. Lakshmi played both characters diligently, donning their roles alternately, with well-practised ease. The sakhi's initial teasing and her disapproval when she hears of Shiva's background, was conveyed with clarity. The jathi patterns were demanding, and the dancer displayed excellent control over laya, without once breaking concentration. Srikanth with the nattuvangam was cautious, but nevertheless accurate; and S.S.R. Krishnan on the mridangam was supportive.

A kriti, "Sundara Rupa" in raga Sankarabaranam, adi talam, was followed by a Ninda stuthi, "Unnai Nambi" in raga Chakravaham, misra chapu talam, and presented Krishna and Shiva in ways that were radically different. It mirrored an intelligent thought process. The naughty child's misdeeds were depicted with a good understanding, while Shiva was treated with complete disdain as the composition warranted.

Lakshmi showed that she possesses the basic skills of a good dancer; it is now up to her to develop and internalise her creativity. She concluded with a tillana in Behag, adi talam, where her mei adavu was particularly impressive.

Lakshmi was unfortunately given a stage with a `jamkalam' nailed onto it.

This might have interfered with her `azutham' to some extent, but she would do well to improve her footwork and `araimandi'.

Vanathi Raghuraman, the vocalist, was melodious but not inspiring enough to provide a fresh impetus for the dancer. Sitharama Sharma on the violin and Ramesh on the flute were extremely harmonious in their support.


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