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Flavours of Ramayana

Ranee Kumar
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Ballet Simple yet cleverly used props, effective choreography and good execution made ‘Sita Parinayam’ by Sri Rama Nataka Niketan students, a treat. Ranee Kumar

Visual feastDancers present ‘Sita Parinayam’
Visual feastDancers present ‘Sita Parinayam’

The dance ballet Sita Parinayam had all the trappings of a regular Bharatanatyam dance drama. The props wherever necessary, suitable attire for the characters, cute personifications of animals, demons and birds, authenticity, good music and above all impressive performance in terms of dance and mime by pupils of Sri Rama Nataka Niketan across all ages. The quality of dance was of the same standard, be it the senior disciples of Manjula Ramaswamy or the tiny tots. Not a step out of sync, with abhinaya as close to the nature of the role portrayed as possible and the ballet rested solely on the strength of Bharatanatyam. And all this on the makeshift stage and basic lighting and sound system provided by Shivam open air stage.

Scenes from Ramayana unfold in quick succession, without a dragging moment. A cheerful visual is presented in shape of King Dasaratha’s court, arrayed as it were by Sage Vasistha and other important men who are pleasantly engaged in viewing a performance by two court dancers. Two other young dancers perched as they were on pots on either corner of the stage with diyas in hand, are engaged in depicting karnas balancing themselves gingerly on one leg while on the pots and swirling around making the audience gasp in dismay and admiration.

All dancers in this troupe are highly flexible. Sage Vishwamitra’s entry is heralded and both Dasaratha (essayed by Sulochana) and Vishwamitra (Shristi Budhori) greet each other through a vivid flow of darus which were charming. Similar was the scene of Janaka (Archana) receiving Vishwamitra along with Rama and Lakshamana. Another scene, worth the name, is that of the woods prior to the coming of Rama (Nikhila Reddy) and Lakshmana along with sage Vishwamitra. Child dancers dressed as peacocks and deer ran round in perfect sync to the tala of footwork movements but with the gait of the bird or animal they represented. It was a visual treat. So too, the character of Tataki (Samatha).

Authenticity creeps in when Vishwamitra presents Rama with armour to the Sanskrit sloka in the background as a token of appreciation ensuring a peaceful yagna. The journey to Mithala is where a prop to show the waters of the Ganga which the trio had to cross (a white twisted cloth running from one end of the stage to the other horizontally with induced flow like water through air) has been used to detail morning ablutions, the Ahalya Shapavimochana enroute where a white cloth balloon like thing placed on stage is burst with a huge sound and smoke that follows; in a fraction of a second, viewers find the figure of a kneeling Ahalya emerge. Such small, simple props served to enhance the creativity and beauty of the ballet.

Sita’s role was convincingly essayed by Arza Varshini.

The Dhanurbhangam was as usual a little too casual and comic. On the whole, there was not one single dancer who did live up to her respective role, including the tiny tots dancing, with credibility in both dance and mime. Prior to the ballet, Tejaswini Manogna did a solo Sai bhajan as a prelude to the occasion of Satya Saibaba birthday celebrations at Shivam here.


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