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An impressive Nrithyotsav

Kuchipudi choreography by Deepika Reddy and solo Bharatnatyam marked South Indian Cultural Association's Nrithyotsav 2005.

STREE SHAKTI Deepika Reddy and Aadith set fine rhythm

The second and third day of the South Indian Cultural Association's Nrithyotsav 2005 staged a Kuchipudi group choreography by Deepika Reddy from the twin cities, and a solo Bharatanatyam by Bhavani Raman of Nagpur. Both the performances were a worthy . Deepika Reddy had a three-dimensional thematic piece Stree Trayam (female trinity) also classified in Kuchipudi terms as ekahaarya (single costume varied characters), eka paatra kelika (solo characterisation) and nritya naatika (dance drama). It also depicted development of women-centric issues through three mythological heroines - Sita, Draupadi and Savitri.

Without spelling it out, Deepika sensitively brought out a very vital point - you can be an obedient daughter, a virtuous wife, a devoted mother, a hapless victim of circumstances and a natural woman. And that you need not be a vociferous, rebellious and feminist to be able to make your mark in the world.

The Ramayana, sung in third person narrative had two sakhis (dancers) relating the run up to Sita Kalyanam in episodic intervals with each gap ending like a temple fresco. It gave an aesthetic edge to the presentation. The Sita swayamvaram, the boat travel by Rama and Sita, a wailing Sita in the backdrop with two dancers giving an account of the happenings, purification of Sita by fire stand out as scenes with immense impact at two levels - artistic and thematic. By the same token, the abduction of Sita and the cry of Ha Lakshmana (from the nattuvanaar) and emulation of Ravana's footwork by the group of dancers in the background, seemed synthetic and superfluous respectively.

The fact that Sita placed in the Treytha yuga made a silent statement of bold chastity only on the foundation of unswerving love (Rama was an equally devoted eka patni vrata in times when polygamy was in vogue) was conveyed by this ekahaarya poem. Aadith Narayan as Rama and later Ravana was dazzling with his imposing personality and agile dancing. Deepika made for an equally swift partner keeping the pace with a brisk Aadith with her touch of the feminine in execution of jatis. The entry of Aadith as Ravana with a series of strong jatis was superb. The enduring Sita gave way to the effectual Draupadi and the emphatic Savitri as the theme unfolds itself to the Mahabharatha story of Pandavas versus Kauravas.

Here again Draupadi ought to be viewed against the background of her times - the Dwapara yuga, polyandry and so on. She comes out as a woman of grit, who could wrought havoc in a royal household by acting as an indirect agent of a great war.

Bhavani Raman

Deepika did a solo of the sequence of events in Mahabharatha leading to the vanquishing of Duryodhana and the final appeasement of Draupadi. The artiste excelled in abhinaya. Her footwork play was emphatic as Dushyasana, Bhima and Yudhishtara.

The Savitri story was perhaps the best of three by its innate strength and its profound content. Deepika carried the role of Savitri to its full extent especially in crucial scenes like the war of wits with Yama. She lingers in the background as a powerful Yama in the foreground is seen to be on his way to his abode.

This picturesque depiction created the right mood and went straight to the viewers' hearts. Aadith as Yama was awesome in a black and gold costume, with powerful footwork especially in the opening scene and his journey atop his vahana (transport). Though the Stree Trayam was acted out in a row, the heroines were markedly different not just by story or song or action but by costume too. Deepika as Sita in white, gold and red stood for stoicism, as Draupadi, draped in red with long open tresses settling scores and as the strategist Savitri in a bottle-green-mustard costume with a princess' hairdo personified the character she portrayed. The off-stage commentary in English was welcome. The lyrics by Samaveda Shanmugha Sharma were lost in Swetha Ravindranath's vocal rendition.

There was a lack of clarity in intonation that dented the succinct choreography of Kishore Mosalikanti. D.S.V Sastry's voice support was drowned in the incoherence of Swetha's vocal. Renuka Prasad on the mridangam, Sai kumar on the violin and Ravi Kiran on the flute were good. The four participating dancers have a long way to go.

Solo bharatnatyam

Bhavani Raman's solo Bharatanatyam, on the concluding day of the festival gained momentum as she danced her way to the varnampadam and tillana. The dancer took time to warm up to the stage and it was a relaxed artiste that we got to see with the onset on the varnam Simha vaahini Sri Rajeswari in Ranjani. One glimpse at Bhavani and it was evident that the Adayar Lakshman style was handed down to her without any dilution. The range of her jatis was an array of striking footwork patterns, which she executed with perfection. The gestures and mudras were little repetitive but only in the abhinaya aspect. When it came to syllabic dance, she was calculative and correct. If the frills and laces were missing, it can be attributed to her young age rather than her dance as such. Her sancharis were also impressive like the sea-sawing of the swing in motion, the bath of gopikas in a river, the game of dice to name a few. In the ashtapadi she intelligently took to a fast-pace raga and dance. The tillana with its fine teermanams and its adherence to the classical format - cycles of speeds, accurate rhythmic movements, et al was a pleasure to watch. Vocal by Ulhaas Kumar was in clear tones. Ratish Babu's nattuvangam was strong as was Renuka Prasad's mridangam. Venkatesh and Chary on flute and violin were in tune with each other.


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