Expertise born out of experience marked Shaly Vijayan’s performance, particularly in her portrayal of the lovelorn nayika.
The Kanchi Maha Swamy Mandapam at Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple was filled with the chatter of an enthusiastic, young audience. The well-dressed rasikas, in handloom saris and kurta-dhotis draped with Kalakshetra-precision, were students from the cultural hub, who had come to see and cheer their faculty member, Shaly Vijayan.
Shaly is a familiar name to those frequenting the Kalakshetra campus. She was first a student and is now a faculty member, who has performed in many a dance drama.
Her refinement and dignity testify to her decades of dancing experience. She emanates quiet confidence on stage and one can see no effort to impress; she leaves her skill to do the talking.
The applause that evening was enthusiastic and justifiably so. The music (Hariprasad, vocal and T.Sashidhar, flute) and dance were both of a high standard and deserve to be appreciated. While each firm footfall was captured by the dancing bells, the percussionists were no less involved — K. Anil Kumar (mridangam) played the anchoring role as an experienced time keeper while Rakesh (nattuvangam), once he warmed up, kept consistent, good rhythm.
The Bharatanatyam performance was for the Dasyam Swati Nrithotsavam presented by Mohiniyattom dancer Gopika Varma, and hence the repertoire was confined to the compositions of the royal composer. The ragamalika kirtanam ‘Bhavaye Sri Gopalam’ (khanda chapu talam) was a well-balanced mixture of pure dance and emotive content. Its visualisation could have been more interesting, especially the literal ‘padartha abhinaya’ format for all the sahitya portions could have been avoided.
Shaly’s swan-like grace and adherence to the rules in the pure dance sequences were admirable, but it was her role play as the lovelorn nayika in the padam ‘Teliviyalummukham’ (Sumanesa Ranjani, misra chapu) in Manipravalam, that stole the show.
As the nayika tried to cajole the indifferent nayaka, the underlying emotions of tenderness and anxiety came through beautifully. The Kodak moment of the evening was when the nayika fell at her beloved’s feet in supplication and looked up to find him gone. Her eyes reflected her loss even as they darted around looking for him in hope. That one ‘look’ was enough to convey the dancer’s depth and maturity.