Aishwarya performed with focus and Neeraja oozed confidence.

Rarely does one come across this combination of proficiency on stage and in the wings. The team consisting of Aishwarya Narayanaswamy (dance), Guru Anita Guha (nattuvangam), Randhini (vocal), Vijayaraghavan (mridangam), Ramesh (flute) and Muruganandam (violin), pooled in their talents to present a well-coordinated show at the Narada Gana Sabha for Karthik Fine Arts. If the dancer was overtly skilful, the guru's guidance was unobtrusively so. The vocalist's dedication and synchronisation were notable, while her accompanying instrumentalists gave the music greater depth. The master percussionist nimbly jacked up the dramatic quotient of the programme and was most memorable in the varnam theermanams and arudis. Aishwarya, a young collegian, has an impressive technique. Not only is she light on her feet and energetic in her execution, she is accurate as well. Her focus was evident early on, and the opening piece, a Pushpanjali in Gambhira Nattai ragam, Adi talam followed by the kriti, `Agara vaasa' composed by Kalyani Sundararajan on Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Nattai, Adi), was enough proof of the dancer's talent and industry. The brief Dasavatharam representations in the Dhandayuthapani Pillai varnam `Sakhiye indha jaalam' (Sankarabaranam, Adi), were presented with clarity. The nritta segments were crisply enunciated and performed. Aishwarya should watch out for that front knee bend that mars this picture of proficiency. More lasya and grace will remove those rough edges in her style.

Striking personality

It is easy to get carried away with Neeraja Srinivasan's confidence and sense of style. A statuesque posture lends sheen to her precise movement patterns and admirable azhutham. Watch longer, and you begin to see that this dancer requires more to sustain the initial euphoria. It is also easy to see that Neeraja's energy is focused on the nritta aspect. Though the araimandi stance can be better, the rest in this department had been well-rehearsed and worked out. However the attention to detail was missing in the emotive sections. She is admittedly expressive but tends to rely on this talent to see her through. But as a dancer matures, it is imperative that there is involvement at a deeper level. The soul is as important as the sheen, if not more. In the opening, `Sankara Sri Giri' in Hamsanandhi (Adi), Neeraja' s sharp nritta and eloquent friezes captured Siva's magnificent form. The forceful nritta continued into the varnam theermanams where rhythm and technique complimented each other to good effect. Except for the one avoidable ambiguity in the arudi segment that found the nattuvanar, Renjith Babu, and the dancer missing their cues now and then. The `Mohamana' (Bhairavi) varnam depicts a heroine yearning for Tiruvarur Tyagesa. The expressive passages serve as a barometer to measure the sensitivity and intensity of the dancer, and this is where Neeraja fell short. It was the same with Jayadeva's last Ashtapadi, `Kuru yadunandana,' (Suddha Saranga, Misra Chapu). The sensuality and intimacy of the scene between Radha and Krishna following their reunion requires more delicacy. However, `Ariven ayya,' (Atana, Rupaka), a padam by Subbarama Iyer, was given its due in a straight forward manner. The orchestra had their share of highs and lows with uneven performances from the nattuvanar and Meera Ramesh (vocal). The consistent performers were: Bhavani Prasad (veena), P.V.Ramana (flute) and B.P.Haribabu (mridangam).