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Fine blend of dance and music

Padma Subrahmanyam — Pic by S. R. Raghunathan

THE 30th ANNUAL festival of Kartik Fine Arts had one of its finer moments in the Shyama Sastri Swarajathi "Kamakshi" performed by Padma Subrahmanyam. The celebrated Swarajati addressed to the deity Kamakshi of Kanchi was taken up by the danseuse to express her own anguish about the current state of affairs of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Padma appealed to the deity to protect the Kamakoti Matam. Music and poetry blended with the smooth and grand flow of dance as delineated by Padma. The songs are replete with the natural pathos and tenderness of a child crying to reach out to its mother. In Padma Subrahmanyam's dance, the movements furnished the appropriate syllables for the intonation of melody created by B. Kannan on the veena. It was interesting to note that there was no nattuvangam and the nritta pieces were done to swaras on the veena. The piece was simple and straight, yet elegant and easy to understand.

Padma Subrahmanyam is known for her excesses in abhinaya but in this piece, there was vishranthi, a sense of sobriety and melancholy. She developed the dance appropriately with the developing of the raga structure along with the sahitya. The korvais were all presented with the different karanas. The beauty of it all was embellished by the vocal singing of Gayathri Kannan, Vijayalakshi Krishnamurthy, (though the very beginning was not srutisudda) the mridangam of Nellai Balaji, veena of Kannan, flute of C. P. Venkatesan and the violin of Thanjavur Babu. Little Syamakrishna did his bit on the ganjira.

Now most dancers come under pressure to present thematic programmes. It was therefore refreshing to witness a margam by Padma. The margam s began with a Ganesha Kautwam with its humorous moments of showing Ganesha leela. Padma Subrahmanyam's senior disciple Uma Sriram performed one piece in the marga. A composition of Padma's mother Meenakshi, the light piece was performed with dignity by Uma. Her long fingers and slender build added to the beauty of the mudras and the dance. The sweet poem written by Andal in the Nachiar Tirumozhi addressed to the conch of Vishnu wondering about the sweetness of the lips with the metaphor of camphor and the water in the lotus was beautifully performed by Padma. But the Oothukkadu Venkatasubba Iyer's Punnagavarali rasasabdam was done completely understated, uncharacteristic of Padma.


Ananda Shankar Jayant presented a dance drama ``Budham Sharanam Gatchami." The Sanskrit dance drama had taken lyrics from ``Budhacharita," ``Lalita Vistara" and ``Soundara Nanda" by Ashvaghosha Padya Choodamani. Music composed by Prema Ramamurthy was pleasant to the ear. The young girls who took part in the group compositions were all well trained.

The episodes from Buddha's life were depicted well with the dream of the King Elephant being shown very subtly and imaginatively in a nice décor with pillars and a tasteful backdrop.

With the entry of Ananda Shankar Jayant as the young Siddhartha the quality took a different turn. Her every stance and every move showed the rigour of training and internalisation. Perhaps a bit too much time was given to the unknown and imagined romantic encounter of Siddhartha and Yashodhara. There was the Kalakshetra touch in the décor and the costumes. There was a centring in her dance that comes with years of practice and intellectual understanding. She stood apart in her role as Siddhartha and as Buddha. Ananda's dance is minimalistic but conveys a lot. Mamata as Yashodhara and Mayadevi came close but needs some more time before she can rise above the training. An enjoyable dance drama.


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