Focus ‘Neelkanth' saw dancer Swapnasundari and artist V.V. Ramani share the stage in an unusual jugalbandhi. Saraswathi Vasudevan

An artist's calibre is measured by the total surrender to the pursued art form, and the faith and joy in the poetic expressions which remain untainted.

Two such visual expressions converged. Two parallel forms defied geometric laws to seek a confluence of aesthetics and appeal. Neelkanth was dedicated to the grandeur and splendour of Lord Siva. It was an evening that witnessed two artistic spaces collaborating; the focus was on Vilasini Natyam of Swapnasundari and the collages of artist V.V. Ramani.

Absorbing Ramani's collages on several facets of Siva, Swapna the doyenne of Vilasini Natyam, created magical weaves throughout her narrative fabric. The fine-tuning of this jugalbandhi in Swapna's words, “was not something conceived instantaneously.” Evidently, her performance was by no means ‘instant café', as the profundity of understanding of Ramani's works came alive in her effortless delineation.

Dual techniques

The dual techniques of artistry bore testimony to the Advaita philosophy establishing Siva and Shakti as one composite whole. The twin energies of the artists complemented Neelkanth, sans compromise on their individual specialisation and styles. Ramani is a contemporary artist, drawing his inspiration from tradition. Swapnasundari, interestingly, is a woman of today who expresses herself through the classical idiom.

Why Neelkanth? Says Ramani, “I had created Neelkanth on the request of medical experts from the Cancer Research and Relief Trust. These works inspired Swapna and thus was born our artistic journey.”

The Doothika took centre stage to discover the subtleties of Siva and Parvati in contrasting emotions, on which Swapna dwelt with her penchant for and expertise in manodharma. Ramani's discretion of dance space visualised the creation of two life-size panels depicting Ardhanareeswara with classical insight. Initially positioning the two halves at either end of the stage, the panels eventually merged lending great scope for the dancer whose brilliant executions juxtaposed her apt stances in the portrayals of Purusha and Prakriti defining the cosmic balance.

The Kumbha Harathi emerged as a metaphoric finale surrounding the art work to realise the significance and symbolism of this artistic conjunction. The culmination saw the two artists on stage detailing the process of this wonderful confluence.

Link narration was provided by Sreemathi Ramnath and the melodious rendering of the prayer song addressed to Goddess Durga was by Shreya Ramnath. Accompanying Swapna were competent orchestra members -- Sudha Rani on vocals, Raghunandan on the nattuvangam, Sreedharachary on the mridangam and Murali on the flute.