Dance

At their expressive best

A file photo of students of Kattaikuttu Gurukulam performing a scene from the play, ‘The Magic Horse’, in Kanchipuram

A file photo of students of Kattaikuttu Gurukulam performing a scene from the play, ‘The Magic Horse’, in Kanchipuram   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Young Kattaikuttu and Yakshagana performers impressed with their maturity andskill at Utsavam 2020

The Magic Horse is a ‘contemporary’ Kattaikkuttu presentation by Kattaikkuttu Sangam, Kanchipuram, based on a fantasy story for children written in Tamil by Kattaikkuttu expert P.Rajagopal. True to the theme of Utsavam 2020, it was presented by young artistes between the ages of 9 and 19. It is the story of how two children bored with school, meet two aliens; the aliens’ gibberish and their attempts at communication being delightful. Despite the communication gap, the school children try to help the aliens who want to regain their ‘shakti’ so they can go back to where they came from. They approach a monkey, a tortoise, a magician, a doctor and finally a clown, who shows them the way.

The dance-theatre was tuneful, colourful and entertaining. The singers along with the accompanists on the harmonium, mridangam-dholak and talam (cymbals), comprised the support group.

Kamsa-Krishna encounter

Four disciples of Manjunath Kulal Airody of Udupi Yakshagana Kendra, Karnataka, between the ages of 6 and 12, presented a lively ‘Kamsa Vadhanam’ in the traditional dance-music-theatre style of Yakshagana. Though the actor-dancers were very young, they strangely suited their roles. Not only did Swastisri (Kamsa), Aarush Shetty (Krishna) and Sachin Kullal (Balarama) carried conviction, but their ages also seemed to tally with Krishna’s age when he killed his uncle Kamsa (some say 11, others 16). The encounter between Kamsa and Krishna — Balarama was the highlight of the show.

The play opened to prayers to Dakshinamurthi, Vinayaka and the song on Balagopala (six-year-old Advik Shetty) that had high energy rhythmic sequences in between. Kamsa is introduced as a big-haired ferocious ruler, who has a bad dream in which he is killed. Seeing Krishna everywhere, he tries to calm his agitated mind saying, ‘Vishranti beku’. He orders Chanura and Mooshtika to kill Krishna and Balarama.

When Kamsa is sitting on his samhasan, the two children, Krishna and Balarama enter observing Kamsa’s arrogance. Impudently they sit on his lap addressing him as ‘Mama!’ Immediately they are pushed away. A conversation between them begins when the children question him about dharma. Kamsa asks them about the demons he had sent, for which Krishna nonchalantly replies how they killed each of them. He accuses Kamsa of being a paapi who imprisoned his parents and attacks him. The fight is very brief.

The dance drama ends with Kamsa’s death and a subsequent prayer. It was marked by excellent footwork, time-keeping and dialogue delivery.

The Himmela, all under 25, consisted of Madhukar Hegde (bhagavatha- singer), Lohith (maddala) and Bharath Chandan (chende). An interesting exploration of rhythm by the percussionists preceded the drama.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:55:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/at-their-expressive-best/article31107008.ece

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