On a dance odyssey with the Natyacharyas

Two lecture demonstrations at two different venues, hosted by two different forums, drew full house audience comprising of dance gurus, musicians, accompanying artistes and dance aspirants and lay rasikas, who came to witness the performance of Natyacharyas Shanta and V.P. Dhananjayan.

Hosted by Abhai, Mumbai chapter, in association with Fine Arts Academy, the dance gurus were to speak on the specialty and development of the Kalakshetra bani, considered the turning point in the history of Bharatanatyam. After the preliminary introduction, the highlights of the Dhananjayans’s dance journey were shared with the audience. Ganesh Kumar, President Board of Trustees of FAS, offered felicitation.

Grand stories were conveyed through simple depiction and abhinaya, with no fanfare like backdrop and so on. Guru Dhananjayan opened with the prayer chant of Kalakshetra and in his very opening sentence dispelled the concept of bani with the words of mentor wRukmini Devi that there are only two banis, the good and the bad. He revised common parlance and said it is Natyam and not generic dance. He also classified varnam as Nrityopakaram and tillana as nrityaangaharam.

Natya, he said, is sampoorna yoga that cleanses body and soul. He also spoke of Rukmini Devi’s pioneering in dance dramas, incorporating Kathakali style, the bhakti-oriented repertoire of Kalakshetra, which proved that Sringaram need not be erotic. Subtle aesthetics in costume, presentation and delineation were advocated.

Graceful adavus

Anand Satchidanandam, their senior disciple, presently in Mumbai, was called to demonstrate Aayata Mandalam, few thattadavus, nattu adavus, body postures, hastas, perfect araimandi and alarippu based on 10 mandalams. It was shown that understanding of Kalapramanam is important, not mere acceleration of adavus.

On a dance odyssey with the Natyacharyas

The doyen presented a complete ‘kita taka tari kita tom.’ Shanta Dhananjayan advocated firmness with grace in adavu postures. She spoke of the Kalakshetra sari and weaving department that gave life to artisans. The duo took turns in their nostalgic narratives about learning under stalwarts such as Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, Mysore Vasudevacharyar and M.D. Ramanathan.

Dhananjayan praised Abhai’s effort in bringing acharyas and students together, facilitating interactive productions. Sanskriti Academy of Fine Arts, Mumbai, spearheaded by Asha Sunilkumar, collaborated with Dhananjayans’ Bharata Kalanjali for Karma Saala, an intensive workshop dwelling on text, music, choreography and abhinaya, for students, teachers and practitioners of all classical styles.

The concluding day of the workshop at Sri Guruji Academy, Hiranandani Estates, Thane, was an interactive session on choosing music for natyam. Opening with an interpretation of Bharat as a nation with bhakti (devotion), rakti (passion) and tanmayatvam (internalisation), Dhananjayan spoke of natya being the Panchama veda, the essence of all vedas.

He added that our composers have built in the expressions in their syntax. He cited Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Chidambara Darisanam’ in Mukhari as an example, where the song guides the performer. His advice to orchestra team was that a singer should memorise the lyrics, mridangam should have bhavam and the team should be coordinated particularly in the kalapramanam. Use of non-traditional instruments, if not appropriate, will only be jarring, he added.

The role of an alaap in setting the mood and the effective use of silence were explained. He talked of choosing environment for natya kavya. He quoted “Neelakantane Vaarum,” penned by Sujata Vijayaraghavan, presented by their team focussed on today’s toxic environment, as an example of socially relevant subjects. Interaction by senior musicians and dancers was appreciated by the couple.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 2:52:46 AM |

Next Story