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Reviving regional dance

RANEE KUMAR
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Dance A commendable performance in Andhra Natyam in order to rejuvenate the glory of regional dance forms. RANEE KUMAR

Of glory and grandeur A scene from the programme.
Of glory and grandeur A scene from the programme.

T he endeavour is laudable, the concept creditable but the execution is what translates the two into a reality on stage. The Navajanardhanam-Nava Satyabhamalu presented in Andhra Natyam mode, a more ethnic version of ‘Bhamakalapam' (Kuchipudi) showcased nine dancers as Satyabhama, each being vested with a verse, a soliloquy depicting the egoistic principal character pining for the attention of her Lord Krishna. The song Ranga ravayya madana mohana forms the refrain as it flows from description of Satyabhama to the praise of Krishna's prowess to romantic reveries of separation and the desire for his companionship. Continuity in sequential order was maintained as the nine Satyas appeared all at once on the stage in the pravesa daruvu (entry), giving way to one dancer at a time enacting the same role. It was many faces forming one whole. However, the soul of the presentation — the nritya aspectfell short of coordination in pace and gestures which is very common with most group performances that are not rehearsed within a tight framework. There was no excuse like the artists who went on stage made a comeback after a hiatus of a decade or so as was being constantly announced between the dances. For most part, these dancers were senior-most pupils of veteran guru Nataraja Ramakrishna, doyen of Andhra Natyam. There was hardly any rigidity in footwork and the limp posture of arms had to be firm in any form of dance. Stage space was left barren with most of the dancer taking up just centre space, hardly venturing out of her orbit. Though the costume was pleasing, the heavy hairdo had a telling effect on the facial expression of the artists. There was not one firm adavu pattern to write home about.

The Chandamama piece culled out of Mandapeta (East Godavari district) temple dance structure, we were told, had dancers in twos and threes entering the stage with song and mime forming patterns. It looked aesthetic enough though a little unrefined to suit the present day stage. Padma Denduluri, Sarada Ramakrishna, Suvarchala, Vijayalakshmi, Vatsalendra, Suneela, Geeta, Haritha and Hymavathi by virtue of their seniority and erudite dance background were definitely capable of a stronger performance.

Our regional dance suffers not because it has inherent deficiencies; in fact it has a rigid framework when it was performed in the temples as in the case of Andhra Natyam and on the streets as with Kuchipudi. Its creative beauty is in its rustic blend of firm footwork and graceful execution. Unfortunately, the present day practitioners end up presenting us with a diluted version in the name of classical dance.

Earlier, solo pieces on Ganesha and the dharu varnam in Kamas Mathe malayadwaja Pandya sanjathe were equally light especially the varnam which was amateurish in execution. It never struck the artist that the song was directed towards Goddess Meenakshi for nowhere could we see the hastha mudra except towards the culmination.

Kalakrishna on the nattuvangam could have been more pronounced and audible. Rama Jagannath on the vocal was too loud at times. B.Balaramamurthy on the mridangam, Dattatreya on the bamboo and Subbalakshmi on the veena made for a strong instrumental support. The performance was staged at Ravindra Bharati under the aegis of Denduluri Foundation.


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