Mime and movement blended seamlessly in Chaitra Rao’s performance

A student of Indira Kadambi, she journeyed to the core of every composition

Updated - May 16, 2024 09:45 pm IST

Published - May 14, 2024 02:48 pm IST

Chaitra Rao.

Chaitra Rao. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

It was a performance where melody and movement complemented each other to make up an evening high on aesthetics. As the curtains went up, the dancer stood facing the backdrop, as she turned around to face the audience, her statuesque ardhanari pose made one sit up. From that moment, through the hour-long show, Chaitra Rao’s ability to communicate ideas and feelings with her abhinaya, which seamlessly intertwined with Rohith Bhat’s bhava-soaked singing, sustained audience interest.

Chaitra began her performance for Natyarangam’s monthly series at Narada Gana Sabha’s mini hall with verses by Adi Shankaracharya describing the varied facets and attributes of Shiva and Shakti in the form of ardhanarishwara. The effortless transition from male to female through contrasting movements of vigour and grace was the highlight of the piece. Particularly noteworthy was her graceful ‘attami’ (head movements). Music for these verses was by M. S. Sukhi .

In the next piece, Chaitra shifted the focus to Krishna. Her face turned into a canvas of emotions in this composition. The central piece of the evening was the popular Kalyani raga varnam, ‘Sarasijakshudu’, composed by Sivanandam of the Tanjore Quartet. It talks about the state of mind of a nayika besotted by Rajagopalaswami of Mannargudi. Her nuanced abhinaya conveyed the many metaphors in the lyrics. The interpolation of theermanams during the description of various musical instruments in the charanam lines ‘Nada Vidya’ livened up the choreography (by Chaitra’s guru Indira Kadambi).

Then came an Ashtapadi. It portrayed the anger and pain of Radha. Set to raga Sindhubhairavi, it moved at a leisurely pace and was shorn of excessive dramatisation. Radha’s is deeply hurt by Krishna’s infidelity. Chaitra’s visualisation was riveting.

Ramya Suresh competently wielded the cymbals, but needs to gain more confidence. Harsha Samaga’s subtle rhythmic flourishes on the mridangam heightened the performance’s impact while flautist Nitish Amanaya’s enhanced the musical experience.

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