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Recreating age old art

R.K.
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Dance Yashoda Thakore and her disciples recreated Nrttaratnavali, a 12th century treatise on dance, in dance form.

Dance idiomYashoda Thakore
Dance idiomYashoda Thakore

The demonstration preceding the release of an English translation of Jayasenapathi’s Nrttaratnavali , a 12th century treatise on dance, saw Yashoda Thakore and her disciples, present verses from the book in dance mode with a live orchestra.

Briefing the audience on the connotation of a few randomly selected verses from Nrttaratnavali, Yashoda took to articulating these with hastha and mukhabhinaya (gestures and facial expressions) giving us a glimpse into the language, thought and expression of the author. The dancer’s idiom signified that the tone and tenor of these verses were romantic in nature, at least on the surface level, while the bulk of the book dealt with dance per se. Yashoda’s interpretation of tattam nrittam through abhinaya in the very first verse was instinctive and natural. We later moved on to the next verse where it is said that Lord Shiva transformed into Sadashiva as a consequence of his passion for dance ( nritta ). The abhinaya for this was undertaken by Yashoda’s disciple Sampreeti with clarity while her co-dancer Sindhuja joined her to depict a pallavi in Arabhi ragam. The duo executed quite a unique pair of mudras (Shikara, Pataka) and footwork patterns but need to balance themselves better in terms of postures. Sindhuja’s pace to tala was a split second slower than that of her co-artiste, which had a bearing on the overall effect of the piece. Speaking of the stress on nritta element in the Nrittavali, which was mandatory to the body and mind like yoga, it was rather surprising that Yashoda undertook a Kshetrayya padam in Kalyani Ela tellavarenaiyya when what should have naturally followed was a demonstration of the nritta that the Jayasenapati meant. However, her mime to song and music in a seated posture was indeed very impressive. Switching emotions fleetingly she was able to showcase varied expressions like mock anger at the early sunrise, still unfulfilled dreams in the eyes of her beloved, a burst of love for the Gopala, who has stepped into her house after a long time ( raka raka ma intiki ) with vivid artistic grace. The finale of the padam where she tries to draw the screen as if to shut out the unavoidable sun rise was a piece of convincing creativity. She also took up an 18th century tillana by Mahavaidyanathan Sivan to connect to the ancient temple dances, which were more or less similar in any southern region. Though the jatis were pronounced in this piece-Gowri nayaka… on lord of Chidambaram – the entire equation in footwork proceeded at a slow pace and called for a little more vigour (in 3 kalai if possible) in execution, which would have been compelling since they were not run-of-the-mill and more so, because it was a tillana . Sudharani on the vocal, Chandrakanth on the nattuvangam , Subbalakshmi on the violin and Sridharacharya on the mridangam were up to the mark.

R.K.

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