Dance

Inspiring presentation

Mohiniyattam recital by Rashmi Menon. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri

Mohiniyattam recital by Rashmi Menon. Photo: Hareesh N. Nampoothiri   | Photo Credit: HAREE FOTOGRAFIE

Rashmi Menon displayed artistic ingenuity and finesse in her Mohiniyattam recital.

Lord Krishna and his stories have always inspired composers and classical dancers alike. His childhood tales involving Yashoda, Radha, gopis, encounters with asuras and so on are frequently staged. Mohiniyattam danseuse Rashmi Menon took a different approach in her recital in Thiruvananthapuram and brought in stories involving Devaki, Kuchela and a gopi who seldom acted like the others.

Prior to presenting the tales of Krishna, Rashmi started off with a Ganesha stuti composed by late Kavalam Narayana Panicker. The composition was set in the indigenous raga Puraneeru in tala Adi.

'Devaki Vilapam’, a varnam in raga Bhagesri, with lyrics by Thrissur Mohan Kumar and set to music by Vayala Rajendran, was the crowning piece of the evening. The divine birth of Krishna being the focus, Rashmi was quite impressive in presenting Devaki. Devaki’s agony changes to maternal prides on seeing her newborn baby. With equal gravity, the dancer presented the plight of Vasudeva in trying to save his eighth son.

The padam ‘Ajithahare Jaya…’ from ‘Kuchelavrutham’ Kathakali, penned by Muringoor Sankaranpotty, was the item that followed. Although the padam and the story are favourites among Kathakali rasikas, it is not frequently seen in dance forms. However, as it turned out, here also the focus was not on Kuchela or his association with Krishna. Kuchela addresses Krishna by the name ‘Vijayasarathe…’ (Oh, the charioteer of Arjuna!) and the dancer swiftly took the narrative to show how Krishna, during the war of Kurukshetra, counselled Arjuna to fight the righteous war and fulfil his duty as a Kshatriya warrior. The bhakti aspect of the Kuchela story wasn't very prominent, but the way Rashmi presented Arjuna regaining his valour was exemplary.

‘Krishna Nee Enne Ariyilla…’ (Oh, Krishna! You don’t know me exist!) depicts the gopi as imagined by poet Sugathakumari. The poem speaks of a gopi who hasn't done anything to grab the attention of Krishna. The situation of the poem is when Krishna takes his leave from Ambadi along with Akroora. The dancer was silent on this aspect of the poem, perhaps to save time, but taking away the context made the presentation less compelling. But the way it concluded made up for the lack of the situation by lauding Krishna as in a bhajan and the piece ended on a high note.

The way the last two items were structured, choreographed and presented, incorporating some short dance phrases in between, just enough to save them from being flat, spoke for the artistic ingenuity of the dancer. It helped to emphasise her versatility in manoeuvring the characteristic moves unique to the repertoire in line with the narratives. Thanks must be due to her guru, Kalamandalam Kshemavathy, who also took the seat of nattuvanar for her.

The programme was organised by the Department of Tourism as part of Onam celebrations. A series of Mohiniyattam solos were presented at the Koothambalam venue of Vyloppilly Samskrithi Bhavan and the recital by Rashmi marked the finale.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 1:33:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/Inspiring-presentation/article14843060.ece

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