MOHINIYATTOM Neena Prasad’s ‘Krishna Bhakti underlined grace and delicacy of movement. RUPA SRIKANTH
Kalamandir Trust hosted an evening of music and dance in honour of its founder, S. Viswanathan, featuring performances by Carnatic vocalist Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Mohiniyattom dancer Dr. Neena Prasad.
Mohiniyattom is a serene art and Neena’s 60-minute ensemble presentation underlined its finer points of grace and delicacy of movement. Her sincerity was notable -- in the deep inflections of the torso and the square ardamandala or demi-plié position that she maintained while executing the delicate footwork. It maybe of interest to note that she kept up with her equally graceful students (Vidyamol, Ritu, Ashwathi, Navami) in the group dances (gopis and Krishna and thillana in Behag, Adi, Madhavan Namboodri) without the need for hierarchy.
Neena’s presentation opened with a Cholkettu in Kedaram, chatusra matya tala (10 beats), a solo set in a predominant tisra gati. The pure dance piece included lyrics on Ganesa, which is a departure from the usual. The dancer’s visualisation and group choreography came under the scanner in ‘Krishna Bhakti,’ that presented Krishna as a romantic hero, an infant and the Supreme Being. Neena outdid herself with quick-changing tableaux of gopis taking turns at mothering Krishna (‘Jo Achyuthananda,’ Kapi, Annamacharya), and without the burden of hierarchy it worked very well. Vidyamol as Yashoda was confident and convincing.
But there was a certain flatness to the rest. The romantic sequence did not fare as well, though there was potential with an interesting scene of Radha (Neena) emoting in the foreground and the gopis dancing the raas at the back as Radha despairs of Krishna’s wanton ways (‘Sakhi Ya Ramita’). The couple re-unite with Krishna begging Radha for forgiveness (‘Kshana Maduna’), the problem being that too much happened much too quickly.
The least impressive in ‘Krishna Bhakti’ was the religious segment, in which Meera (Neena) longs for Krishna in ‘Aali Re Mere Naina’ (Revathi). Without a conscious build-up of mood, Krishna’s appearance in the end became a non-event.
The melodic duo of Ishwar Ramakrishnan (violin) and G.R.S. Murthy (veena) upped the tenor of the musical team, while K.P. Ramesh Babu (mridangam) held the timekeeping together single-handedly. Sudhanya (nattuvangam) was accurate but not very participative. Musician Madhavan Namboodri had tuned the compositions. He sang well, though his best was the thillana by which time his voice had warmed up.