Scent of divine...

Six classical dancers gave a demonstration of the significance of celestial flowers at an event in New Delhi.

Published - December 08, 2016 03:57 pm IST - DELHI:

GESTURES MATTER: Group performance of Divya Pushpam

GESTURES MATTER: Group performance of Divya Pushpam

The thematic dance, Divya trilogy that began in October wrapped up with a eulogy to certain significant blossoms. ‘Divya Pushpa’ is considered to be precious to particular deities of the Hindu mythology. This time around, we had six dancers showcasing individually six specially divine flowers and their importance in terms of divinity.

Explaining the concept, R.K. Usha, the organiser, said the theme was inspired by the Mother of Puducherry who always felt the spiritual attributes of flower are worthy of emulation by mankind. The thematic presentation was within the parameters of stage presentation of Bharatanatyam wherein it begins with an invocation to lord Ganesha, an alarippu and so on. Here the theme, viz. flowers took over the mudras and the sancharis or mythological story depiction added girth to the dance. The up-and-coming dancers were strong on their nritta, which is a very vital aspect in this stage of their artistic pursuit. Despite the limitations of the theme, the artistes were able to present each of these rare blossoms with illustration through mime and movement which is no mean achievement. Their attire and hair-do had a subtly enhancing effect.

While Keertana Ravi invoked Ganesha through the ‘Japa’ flower (red hibiscus), a colour dear to the lord’s worship as laid down in the lore. It was indeed a task for the dancer to establish a viable link with the deity and flower but it must be said to her credit that despite lack of proper literature on the subject, Keertana was able to dissect and juxtapose the shape and parts of the Japa kusum with Ganesha’s own form through alarippu mnemonics and Ganesha’s beejakshar. The personification of the flower was a piece of poetic licence. The snag if any was too frequent a shift in imagery and language of the lyric, like the popular Marathi mangalacharan got sandwiched between two languages and the opening couplet (Japa kusuma sankasham) was actually an invocation to the sun with no bearing on Ganesha!

Lissom Matangi Prasanna outlined the scented Parijath, a flower associated with lord Vishnu/ Krishna through a series of sancharis which were rhythmically aesthetic and vibrant. Her abhinaya for ‘Yukta yukta viveka shoonya...’ was also varied with each refrain- a testimony of her skill at expression. The very popular story of lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama was taken up to establish the importance of Parijath. Transition of feelings from wrath to joy expressed to swar bhol was a remarkable piece of artistry.

Radhika Shetty stood out as a strong dancer with her nritta, balance and postures as she emulated the Naglingapushpa, a flower that resembles the Shivlinga and the serpent hood. The dancer tried to decipher the Shiv-Shakti union within the flower itself – a unique thought of artistic creativity. So was Sneha Chakradar, who took up the flower ‘Kadamba’ associated with Durga. Though the dancer was a fine artiste as far as the dance went, the story of the invincible demon finally annihilated by Vishnu with the help of mother goddess, who took the form of Kadamba tree, diluted the issue on hand. In miming the demon’s physical prowess and pride, the dancer seemed to have lost sense of ‘propriety’ (Auchitya of Natyasastra) in lifting her foot against the audience! The syllabic ‘On hreem’ refrain to depict the emergence of Durga from fire and the dashamahavidya was however appealing. Amrita Lahiri’s ‘Padme’ (lotus) was a real dance piece in the sense of the trikala jati to which she mimed the lotus blooming petal by petal on the surface level, then the association with goddess Lakshmi and finally the psychedelic chakras which are said to be in the form of lotuses with different petal count inhabiting the seven vital nerve centres of the spinal column. The mudras were justified but the number depiction through fingers was rather amateurish.

The white and blue-hued Shank-Pushp, known as Aparajitha, is shown as the favourite of Radha rani. Danseuse Gowri Sagar was like a metaphor to Radha both in her appearance, abhinaya and dance. Set to lovely lyrics in Hindi, she emoted the love-lorn Radha to the hilt. To her the Aparajitha was at once a personification of Krishna while the name (Aparajitha) was synonymous of her own love that remained unvanquished. Fleeting between the roles of Krishna and Radha in the ras-leela depiction, her sancharis to swar and bhol enhanced this piece. Her eyes were able to speak the grief of the lines, ‘mohe bhool gaye nand lal..’ with convincing emotive eloquence. Kudos to the live orchestra –Vasudha Shastri lending vocal support to a commanding nattuvangam by Kameshwaran Pillai while Chandrasekhar on the percussion, Sridhar on the violin and Raghuram on flute– who made each piece unique in its own way. The India Habitat Centre played host to the show.

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