Commitment and confidence marked the performance of Anwesha Das, but Swarnamalya Ganesh was casual in her approach.
Anwesha Das is a happy combination of industry and talent, grace and energy, confidence and commitment. Her training under dancer Urmila Sathyanarayanan and nattuvanar-singer Swamimalai S.K.Suresh has given her a good grounding, but the rest is due to her sincerity and application. Deft footwork and crisp nritta marked the opening Mallari in Gambhira Nattai ragam, Khanda jaathi Ata talam. The 14-beat time cycle found resonance in Suresh's cymbals, Anwesha's bells and Mayuram Jaishankar's mridangam that came together as one percussive whole in the temple procession. The same rhythmic cohesion continued into the `Manavi' varnam translated by Papanasam Sivan into Tamil as `Karunai Seidithal Aagaadha' in the original Sankarabaranam ragam, (Adi) and into the vibrant tillana (Kannada, Adi) by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar. The nritta struck a good balance between the grounded and the fleet-footed techniques. The steps were well finished and her `azhutham' was notable. Pure dance is clearly Anwesha's forte.
Quick switchSringara rasa was predominant in the varnam as the amorous heroine longs for her Lord Brihadiswara. Kama's flower darts and the story of Mylai Karpagambal were delineated with clarity, but what was most impressive was the dancer's quick switch from a smiling nayika to an indifferent nayaka and back again in the charanam. One only felt the nayika's viraha could have had more depth. The surprise of the evening was S.K.Suresh's bhava laden music. His music has matured, despite not having the advantage of a deep voice. He was aided by Venkatesan, flute, and Sigamani, violin, who gave their best in the Sankarabaranam varnam. As a research project, Swarnamalya Ganesh's `Kannan Vazhi Tamizh' would get a straight `A,' but the same project translated into the Bharatanatyam idiom will be rated far, far below, perhaps just managing a `C.' Tracing the divine entity through Tamil literature from the 2000 year-old Sangam poetry to the contemporary composition is a worthy but ambitious venture and the dancer with the help of Karaikkudi S. Subramaniam has done a fine-toothed combing of lyrics. The music too had been painstakingly researched. The introduction for each piece was as meticulous and was read out with clarity by Swarnamalya. That leaves only the dance to be discussed. The dancer is expressive and has a good presence, except that her treatment was too casual and too basic to be appreciated. This casualness was reflected in the loose body language. It was also there in the mime that was predominantly `lokadharmic.' The delineations were mostly straightforward, literal translations. Kulasekhara Azhwar's `Pillai Thamizh' verse, `Muzhudhum Vennai Alaindu' in `Pazhanthakka pann' (Arabhi ragam) captured Yasoda's love for the mischievous Krishna and was one of the more tender moments in the recital. The music ensemble was one of the strongest points of the recital. The presentation of stalwarts such as Hariprasad (vocal), M.S.Kannan (violin), Thyagarajan (flute), Viswanathan (mridangam) and Renjit Babu (nattuvangam), was most enjoyable. Swarnamalya has a winsome way about her, but she should know that that is not enough. She needs guidance to set her on the path of good dance, if she decides to pursue it seriously.