Dancers explore themes and emotions

Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel  

Keerthana Ravi of Rasabodhi Arts Foundation hosted EVAM 2021 spanning four days of quality performances. “Art has kept us afloat during the pandemic so it is high time we take art seriously ,” she said .

On the opening day, three women from Indian history were portrayed by three young dancers. Usha R. K., curator and coordinator of ‘Veerbala’ outlined the concept. “It is excitingto ideate a concept and work with promising young dancers in a democratic manner” says Usha.

Ode to women warriors

Poorna Acharya, showcased the bravery of Rani Lakshmi Bai in Kathak format. Suitable expressions as a widowed Rani, the fond and bereaved mother, the brave warrior combined with powerful ‘bols’ and ‘chakkars’ with the oft heard refrain of khoobladi mardani added to the recital.

Shivaranjani Harish depicted Kittur Rani Chennamma and how she emerged courageous from betrayal and personal loss. After the death of her husband and son, she adopts Shivalingappa, surpasses all challenges and fights for her rights. The dancer chose apt Kannada compositions and was well supported by an effective live orchestra.

Dakshina Vaidyanathan Baghel played Rudramma Devi. Watching her soldiers dying to safeguardthe kingdom for her young grandson, Pratap Rudra, she leaves the battlefield to live in secrecy. She trains her grandson in martial arts and upholds the flag of Kakatiya. The story of her vatsalya and valour was graphically depicted by Dakshina.

Common denominator of props like veil, sword and shields, the necessary research, the lyrical content and music, suitable lighting, gamut of emotions like love, motherhood, loss, despair and betrayal were the highlights of ‘Veerbala.’

To briefly describe Rama Vaidyanathan, she is a consummate artiste. Her ‘Now’ margam had two connotations; one being the changes in the present time and the other, the time spent now in addressing traditional pieces. The two opening and closing pieces were examples of traditional structures changed to suit present times. The Mayura alarippu in five and a half beats had succinct pauses and poses, fluid movement dynamics of peacock taking off in a flight.

The varnam (‘Samini Rammanave’, Ananda Bhairavi, Ata tala, Syama Sastri) was a traditional rendition with Trikala jati composed by S. Vasudevan and other jatis by Sumod Sridharan. With a mischievous glint in her eyes, Rama as the nayika lists out clues to describe Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram to her sakhi, (Padmanabha, namam, lotus, conch, etc) with such clarity that the viewer is tempted to answer. She is tormented by desire and challenges Kamadeva in the charanam refrain. Her plea to Kamadeva to desist was eloquent. The close-up shot by videographer Innee Singh aided intimate communication. The dancer’s maturity was evidenced in comfortably negotiating the challenging Ata tala and the briga-filled rendition of Sudha Raghuraman.

‘Taruni papapunyamula’, Kshetrayya padam, in raga Dharmavati showcased the Swadhinapatika nayika, with music composed by Sudha Raghuraman. The meaning of Telugu lyrics were interpreted to Rama by dancer Anupama Kylash. The surrender of body, mind and soul, the layered meaning so relevant today was brought out with palpable sensitivity.

The concluding Kanda Sashti thillana was at once a challenge and a cake walk. The lyrics per se yields to graphic depiction and lilting rhythmic movements. By judiciously selecting suitable segments of the Kavacham, Rama effectively communicated every dimension of Muruga. . Skilfully and seamlessly moving from one raga to another, Sudha Raghuraman evidenced her musicality in composition and execution.

Dr. S. Vasudevan on the nattuvangam, Manohar Balachandran on the mridangam and G. Raghuraman on the flute contributed to the melodic musical content.

Vaibhav Arekar’s ‘Venugan’, a dance theatre production was an exploration of Bharatanatyam through Vachika abhinaya. “We have revisited what we did two years ago,” informed Vaibhav. Directed by Sushant Jadhav, it was a symbiotic relationship of spoken word and movements embellished by music and percussion by Satish Krishnamurthy.

In the last stage of his life Krishna is in a state of introspection and retrospection. Engulfed in a vortex of emotions, he questions the Vidhata, “Why am I filled with ashanti?” He had carried ‘Sahasrakamal’ for his uncle Kamsa, then what led to the rage, the duel and killing of Kamsa? From the actor, Krishna has become the audience. He faces death, not as an exalted Avatar but a mere human. His life is an unsolvable mystery; images of women like Gandhari, Draupadi, Kunti, Radha and Uttara haunt Him. Vaibhav lies down, sits with feet extended, rolls on his back, stands tall, strides across the stage, curls like a foetus; movements conveying Krishna’s confusion. Songs like ‘Kasturi thilakam’, ‘Madhurashtakam’, a slow ‘Chandana charchitha’ seguine into a speedy ‘Harivihamugdhav’ and ‘Krishna nee begane’; all melodiously rendered by Karthik Hebbar imparted a distinct Krishna flavour.

Vaibhav communicated effectively the contrasting emotions of Krishna through physical movements, facial expressions and emotive dialogue deliveries.

After deferring the scheduled programme by a fortnight due to London lockdown regulations, EVAM collaborated with Darbar Festival, UK and streamed a recording of Mavin Khoo’s recital from their archives.

Mavin Khoo

Mavin Khoo  

After a soul-stirring prayer by O.S. Arun , Mavin executed the jathis with fast-paced footwork and vigour. The solo one act journey began with the pallavi line ‘Sami Nee’ in Kalyani. The extended sanchari was accomplished using explanatory narration in English, suitable Tamil and Telugu lyrics and a ghazal. With dreamy eyes, Mavin portrayed the pangs of the lovelorn female protagonist. His depiction of her dressing up and coyness were all a study in feminine aesthetics. The famous ghazal, ‘Aaj jane ki zid na karo’ was executed in a leisurely, baithaki bhav format. Easwar Ramakrishnan on the violin enhanced the melodic content, while D.V. Prasanna on the nattuvangam and Manjunath on the mridangam added to the rhythmic content.

The final piece ended on a note of spiritual transcendence. It was a non-stop performance that evidenced Mavin’s dedication and total abandon.

The Mumbai-based author writes on music and dance.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 2:04:21 PM |

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