Brahma Gana Sabha Dance

An opportunity not exploited

Lakshmi Vishwanathan in ‘Tanjore -The golden age of Bharatanatyam’

Lakshmi Vishwanathan in ‘Tanjore -The golden age of Bharatanatyam’   | Photo Credit: M_Karunakaran

The presentation did little justice to the theme — Thanjavur’s legacy

A strong desire to stay connected to their roots often inspires artistes who have moved to distant shores to delve into the history of their native land. Apsaras Arts, Singapore, chose to look at the rich artistic legacy of Thanjavur and conceive a Dance production titled ‘Tanjore -The golden age of Bharatanatyam’, which was presented at Brahma Gana Sabha. Lakshmi Vishwanathan playing the role of Kashibai kept the audience enthralled with her narration, a Katha Kutcheri laced with wit, sarcasm and facts in her inimitable style.

The complete history of Thanjavur — through the times of Cholas and Nayak rule, their patronage to art and architecture and the rich cultural diversity —unfolded through her storytelling.

An opportunity not exploited

This narration was interspersed with young dancers of Apsaras Arts performing select compositions from the Margam. From the first composition extolling Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Parvati, through the Thevaram passages exploring the facets of Siva, to the pining nayika in the varnam, the dancers (Sathvika Shanker, Banupriya Ponnarasu, Nikita Menon, Varsha Vishwanathan, Mohanapriyan Thavarajah) performed with competence.

It is an interesting idea to present our rich legacy to new audiences, not much familiar with it, but productions like these also need to live up to the expectations that arise with their promising titles. Can a few songs from the repertoire strung together with storytelling passages truly work as a production? The historical references spoken by the sutradhar did not find expression in the form of stylistic variations in dance to highlight the different time periods. The musical score, a compilation from various recordings, also made it appear fragmented. It was Lakshmi’s narration that sustained the interest, but her immense musical and dancing skills could have been tapped and interwoven into her role for better impact (she did the brief natyapravesham and performed the Lavani in traditional costume).

Thanjavur and the potential that the subject warranted didn’t find the right expression.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 7:44:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/apsaras-arts-tanjavur-disappoints/article22464347.ece

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