Through varnam, danced at a leisurely pace, Lakshman exhibited his talent keeping the mood of the song in tact. And young Smriti's repertoire had no room for abhinaya.

Bhakthi Sringara was the focus in the delineation of the Ragamalika Varnam of Ponnaiah Pillai by A. Lakshman. In the Pallavi, `Samininne,' Laxman's Stayi Bhava was that of a bhakta without any emphasis on the gender. As one wondered about the absence of the Nayika of the Varnam, she appeared with Sringara Bhava and feminine grace in the line `Sada Neevu.' This was a masterly stroke of choreography of emphasising the bhava of the varnam before focusing on the character portrayed in it. The dancer's emphasis was on Bhava enrichment. It was danced in a leisurely pace and contrary to present day trends of long, taxing jathis, the nritha sequences were crisp, bringing out his talent here without affecting the mood of the song.Lakshman's sancharis for the line `Brahadiswara' built up layer by layer the majesty of the structure and the portrayal of the arrogance of the Nayika saying that the Lord who the world worships was hers brought out the subtleties of his abhinaya skills.The mood built up by this varnam was further enhanced in the Ashtapadhi `Shanamaduna' (Dwijavanthi). The dalliance of Radha and Krishna was etched with lyricism suitable for the mood of the song. The dancer's visualisation of spreading the leaves and flowers as a bed for the dalliance was the height of abhinaya aesthetics. It is time Lakshman is seen alongside the top female dancers in mainstream festivals including that of the Music Academy. Hariprasad's evocative singing complemented by Sikhamani on violin and Nellai Kannan on mridangam contributed immensely towards enhancing the mood of the evening's recital.A dancer of Laxman's maturity needs to focus attention in understanding the dance space for soon after the floral offering in the centre he trampled over the same space with his footwork and movements for Vinayaka Stuthi, which given our Indian aesthetics was a sacrilege. Is it necessary to do elaborate Sancharis in a Sabdham anyway?

Little scope for abhinaya

Smriti, a disciple of Sudharani Raghupathy, fits the normal expectations required for a dancer, as one found at Brahma Gana Sabha. In the depiction of the bird in Nachiar Thirumozhi Paingili Vannan, or in the portrayal of the nagaswaram, tavil and the decorations on the streets for the line `Podu Povadillaye' in Theruvil Varaano, the spark of her abinaya talents were seen.Varnam is always a sampler to bring out the complete talent of a dancer. In the Kalyani Varnam, `Amba Akhilandeswari' of Madurai Krishna Iyengar, the sancharis were all descriptive of the attributes of the Goddess and left no scope for any expressional possibilities so essential for creating rasa. The sahitya and the jathis flowed on, one after another without any impact. Priya Murle's nattuvangam with emphasis on the tha-r-r-i, thom syllables along with high sound amplification was overpowering for a young dancer to cope. Smriti needs to now focus on internalising the meanings and the mood of the songs to elicit bhava in her dance and to evolve from the level of presenting the prettiness of the form. A little more punch in footwork and firming the hand movements would enhance her dance. The costume colour was appealing. Nandini Anand on the vocal, Vijayaraghavan on the violin, Anirudha on the mridangam and Priya Murle on nattuvangam accompanied the dancer.