Ananga’s dance was underscored by rich bhava

Ananga Manjari’s portrayal of the abhinaya nuances showed her understanding of the literature

Published - August 22, 2019 03:17 pm IST

Ananga Manjari from Peru performed at ABHAI’s Pravasi Utsavam at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Chennai

Ananga Manjari from Peru performed at ABHAI’s Pravasi Utsavam at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Chennai

In 2001 when she was four years old, Ananga Manjari from Peru started her Bharatanatyam training under her mother, Herlinda Gonzalez in her dance academy ‘Gopesvara Arts.’ She came under the tutelage of Shankar Kandasamy, artistic director - choreographer-performer, Temple of Fine Arts, Malaysia, in 2012 and has since travelled across the world to hone her skills. Ananga also mentions well-known Bharatanatyam dancer Janaki Rangarajan as a mentor.

When I heard that Ananga has also trained in ballet from a young age and is part of a contemporary dance company in Peru, I wondered if these dance styles would affect the ‘groundedness’ that Bharatanatyam requires. But Ananga’s good coaching, her sincere adherence to the dance style and her grasp of the cultural nuances allayed all anxiety. She is an experienced performer. Except for some awkwardness with a forward bent knee in the ‘thai ha thai hi’ step in the trikala jathi and a backward bent knee elsewhere, one cannot tell her from a local.

Ananga’s posture, timing and excellent finishes were showcased in the bhakti-sringara padavarnam, ‘Sakhiye inda jaalam’ (Sankarabharanam, Adi, K.N. Dhandayuthapani Pillai). The heroine asks her friend, ‘Why this delay? Please ask my Lord to come to me now.’

Suffering the painful separation, viraha, the heroine finds milk and rice distasteful. Instead of depicting a distressed heroine, the dancer portrayed a heroine lost in thought of her love-interest, smiling, but refusing food and drink. This is a small shift in portrayal, but requires careful delineation. You can smile in memory, but you cannot look happy…

The dasavataras showed her excellent understanding of the religious literature. The Gajendra episode was clear, but one felt the crocodile could have been shown at a lower level.

Ananga was at home with all aspects — whether it was the concept of ‘pada sevai’ serving Lord Venkatachalapathy, performing the usi, thattu-mettu starting with the offbeat, or the ‘bring him with all honours’ instruction to the friend shown as the hero coming with a mridangam accompaniment and marrying her… After cajoling her friend to go as a messenger, she watches her friend make her way, and urges her not to stop when she turns back. Every nuance was natural.

Ananga performed ‘Sankara Srigiri’ (Hamsanandi, Adi, Swati Tirunal) depicting the god of the mountain Sankara dancing. This piece was eminently suited to Ananga’s energy and flexibility. She is a well-trained, diligent dancer.

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